VETERAN newsman Joel Palacios and four others met their violent death when a crestfallen knife-wielding man, who had a quarrel with his cop-identified girlfriend, ran amuck inside a high-rise condominium in Pasay City Tuesday night, police said.
Joel Palacios, 70, former news editor of the Manila Standard, had just come out from his condo unit at the 16th floor of Central Park Condominium to jog when he met Alberto Garan, armed with a knife and seething with anger.
His remains are at the Arlington Funeral Homes in Araneta Avenue in Quezon City, with burial date still to be announced.
Police, who rushed to the scene after an hour, were able to gun down four hours later Garan, 39, who had by then stabbed dead five people, including 12-year-old girl Daisery Castillo, in different floors of the 25-story building.
The other fatalities were identified as Garan’s girlfriend Emelyn Sagun, 30; Ligaya Dimapilis, 36; and Letecia Ecsiagan.
“This is a clear case of crime of passion,” said Supt. Deanry Francisco, head of the Pasay City Police Station Investigation Detection and Management Branch. “He got jealous when he saw his lover with another man.”
“What we’ve learned is that the man [suspect] feels his girlfriend already entered into a relationship with him, and yet she is still seeing another man,” Pasay City polic chief Dionisio Bartolome said, although it was not clear how they got to that conclusion since both had died in the crime.
Those injured―Belcris Elorde, April Joy Sagarino, Arlyn Dian Cordero and Margie Morales―were rushed to the Pasay City General Hospital. Morales has since been discharged from the hospital.
The incident happened inside Central Park Condominium, owned by Chinese-Filipino businessman Emilio Ching, along Jorge Street in Barangay 132 Zone 13 around 6:30 pm.
Francisco, relying on information given to police, said a heated argument ensued between Sagun and Garan inside their room at the 14th floor, where Garan took a .38 cal. revolver and tried to shoot his girlfriend but the gun malfunctioned.
He added the suspect then grabbed a kitchen knife and chased the woman from their room to the floor lobby until they reached the stairway where he stabbed and pushed her off the staircase.
The suspect ran amuck inside the condominium and stabbed other tenants he met in the different floors.
Palacios had just emerged out of his 16th floor condo unit en route to his jogging outside when Garan met him and, without any indication of his criminal intent, stabbed him at the 16th floor.
The suspect also saw the 12-year-old victim, who just arrived from school, and stabbed her at the 17th floor before he knocked and went inside room 2020 where he stabbed three other women.
Metro Manila police director Oscar Albayalde, accompanied by Southern Police District director Tomas Apolinario Jr., arrived at the scene after one hour and asked residents to get calm and gather in a function room while Special Weapons and Tactics operatives were locating the whereabouts of the suspect.
After four hours, the SWAT men found, subdued and gunned down the suspect, who tried to resist arrest, at the 23rd floor of the building around 11 p.m., police said.
Recovered from the suspect’s possession were the knife used in the killing, a .38 cal revolver and cash money.
Bartolome said Garan and Sagun arrived at the condominium unit owned by the woman’s sister Jesibel last Saturday evening to find a job in Manila. Garan was a tricycle driver in Cagayan.
Police failed to explain how long the interval was before they could take the victims to the hospital.
They said they encountered difficulties in locating the victims because the condominium was a dimly lit building.
“It [condo] was abandoned already but the owner filed a petition and won a legal case, and resumed operation,” said Bartolome.
Police are also looking into possible security lapses in the building.
Before knowing what was happening, Garan stabbed Palacios, who fell to his knees begging for his life while shouting for help, police said.
Delpris Elorde, Palacios common-law wife, heard the screaming.
“I rushed outside our condo unit to help him,” Elorde said in an interview.
“I saw a helpless Joel down on the floor. When he saw me he told me to go back inside our condo unit. But I ignored his warning. Run to save your life. I’m dying, so be it!” a sobbing Elorde quoted Palacios as saying.
“But I was determined to help Joel when the knife-wielder thrust his knife towards me. I used my hands to parry [off] his stabbing spree. I sustained five wounds on my left arm and one on my right palm. Still, I held my ground,” she added.
“Then he stabbed twice, hitting my hips. Despite the wounds, I managed to run to the exit door then I fell down the stairs. Luckily he did not pursue his attack on me,” Elorde said.
“When I turned my head, I saw him going up to the 17th floor where the knife-wielder stabbed to death a 12-year-old girl who was walking [down] the hallway,” she added.
Elorde said her sister Resmy arrived and brought her to the hospital.
“Joel was on his way to jog along the hallway of the condominium as he used to do every afternoon but on early Tuesday evening, death came like a thief in the night,” she said.
Elorde also said during the incident, Abegail, their three-year old daughter, arrived at the scene, unmindful of what was happening. Fortunately, Elorde’s sister hurriedly whisked the child off before the knife-wielder saw them.
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