Fire officer in Sarangani faces raps for shooting spree

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/29 September) — A fire officer assigned in Malapatan town in Sarangani is facing multiple charges after going into a shooting spree at the parking area of a shopping mall here on Sunday night.

Sr. Insp. Mae Grace Licudan, chief of Bula or police station number 6 here, identified the suspect as Senior Fire Officer 4 Virgilio Tobias III, who is a member of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) station in Malapatan.

The suspect is a son of incumbent Sarangani provincial board member Virgilio Tobias Sr., who is also a former regional director of the BFP in Region 12.

Licudan said Tobias, who was driving an owner-type jeep with a female passenger, initially came speeding at the parking lot of the KCC Veranza mall here at around 8:50 p.m.

A security guard tried to stop the suspect from entering the mall’s parking building but the latter allegedly pointed a handgun at him, she said.

She said Tobias then proceeded to a vacant parking space at the building’s first level in an “unusual speed and manner,” prompting three mall security guards to accost him.

But she said Tobias also pointed a caliber .45 handgun at the security guards and threatened to shoot, forcing them to retreat.

A few minutes later, she said several gunshots rang from the area where the suspect’s vehicle was parked, causing mall goers to panic and the management to implement an emergency lockdown.

Licudan said policemen responding at the scene confirmed that the shots were fired by Tobias, who had run amok.

She said the suspect’s female companion, who was identified as 20 year-old Mary Glouze Calong, was able to flee from the scene but was shot on her right leg.

“She (Calong) admitted that the suspect was her boyfriend and she was shot in an apparent fit of jealousy,” Licudan told reporters.

The police official said the suspect, whom she described as restless and out of control during the incident, was restrained about an hour later following intervention by city fire marshal, Senior Insp. Renel Belonio.

Police investigators recovered a caliber .45 handgun with serial number 783095, six empty shells and three slugs of caliber .45.

A parked Toyota Innova and a Kia Pride sedan sustained gunshot damages as a result of the incident.

Licudan said they are set to file charges of frustrated homicide and four counts of grave threats against the suspects.

She said a visiting resident of Cotabato City who owns the damaged Toyota Innova also signified to file charges against the suspect.

Licudan said Calong’s injury was not considered serious but she remained confined at the St. Elizabeth Hospital here as of Monday morning.

She said Tobias, who was being detained at the Bula police station’s lockup, remained restless and could not recognize even his relatives.

“We decided sedate him but his condition is still the same as of the moment. He’s still restless and out of control that even five of our personnel could not easily restrain him,” she said.

Licudan added they will subject the suspect, who accidentally shot himself on the left leg, to alcohol and drug tests to determine his condition. (MindaNews)