Police say the suspect reportedly missed his target and hit Emilene Villanueva instead

STRAY BULLET? A victim of a stray bullet is wheeled into the Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center in Manila during the New Year revelry on Sunday, January 1, 2017. Photo by Ben Nabong/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Police have identified the suspect who shot a 15-year-old girl in Malabon City on the final hour of 2016, Metro Manila’s top cop said on Monday, January 2.

Chief Superintendent Oscar Albayalde, chief of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO), said in an interview with radio dzBB that the suspect had aimed for a neighbor but missed his target and instead shot Emilene Villanueva, who is fighting for her life at the Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center (JRMMC).

Albayalde declined to name the suspect, who reportedly held a grudge against his real target. He said charges were expected to be filed on Monday against the suspect, who was still being tracked down by authorities.

"Ongoing pa rin po ang manhunt operation sa suspek (The manhunt operation against the suspect is ongoing)," said.

Albayalde reiterated that based on the investigation, Villanueva was not a victim of indiscriminate firing as claimed by health officials. From the start, the NCRPO had classified the case as a "shooting incident."

"May witnesses tayo (We have witnesses)," the NCRPO chief said.

Albayalde gave the interview a couple of hours after Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial insisted in an interview with ANC that the girl was a stray bullet victim.

"We still categorize it as stray bullet from indiscriminate firing because the bullet hit the child on the head at the trajectory of a stray bullet, vertical," Ubial said on Monday, adding that a CT scan showed that the bullet entered the top of the girl’s head.

The health chief said the Villanueva remains in intensive care at the JRMMC where she had been confined since the first hour of 2017.

"She has very severe brain injury. The bullet cannot be extracted as many of the vital structures of the brain will be affected," she said.

Ubial said the teenager is the eldest of 4 children of a fish vendor. – Rappler.com

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