Exactly two years ago today, I received a disturbing message back home. The security officer of the residential building where I stay in the Philippines reported that shards of glass were falling from my unit window sending debris down the driveway below. There was no one in the flat during that week. Hence, they had to wait two more days until a relative arrived whom I instructed to open the unit for further investigation.
When they finally gained access, they were astounded to find the kitchen window shattered by what seemed to have been caused by a gun shot. When the police investigators came in, they examined the area and recovered a bullet slug stuck inside the cooker hood that is adjacent to the window.
Pictures of the scene were emailed to me. The window glass panel was almost gone. But the cracks on the remaining fragments of the glass formed a spider web-like pattern that clearly showed the bullet’s exact point of impact. The bullet pierced though the cooker hood metal panel leaving a 2 centimetre diameter hole before finally lodging inside the hood and breaking the exhaust fan.
Where the shot came from
Having an engineering background, my imagination was already speculating on the next question given that the point of entry and the point of impact were already identified. And having watched too many C.S.I. episodes on TV add to my fascination on Geometry, it’s but natural for me to connect the two known points with an imaginary line and project it outwards to pinpoint the exact source of the gun shot. Since there was no other obstruction or buildings nearby, this theory lead me to only one place – the slum across the river.
Who pulled the trigger?
Guns (both legal and illegal) are rampant in the Philippines with or without the government’s imposition of gun ban. Slum areas are believed to be breeding grounds of bad elements. Incidentally, there is a military base right next to it. This made me believe that a man in uniform may also have something to do with the incident.
Who would want to shoot me? I don’t have enemies nor am I a gang member much less a politician. Or could my neighbor be a target of an assassination attempt? But the level above is my bedroom and I later confirmed that the units adjacent and below are unoccupied. Hence, it could not have been a hired killer.
The police investigators took the bullet slug to the crime laboratory for examination. After a week the report came out and they confirmed the bullet was fired from a rifle. I was adamant to find out if it was from the military or police and not a civilian. And my inkling was right. The shot was fired by no less than… a policeman.
According to the report, a group of policemen were chasing some bad guys along the slums during that same time period. To stop the crooks, the police fired warning shots up in the air. Unfortunately, the “up in the air” was not directed vertically upwards. Instead, the gun was pointed towards our residential unit.
What a shame! I was furious. I wanted to seek justice. Can I sue the “state” maybe for frustrated homicide or probably for damages to property? I wanted to follow up the police report and demand a formal explanation. But we were told that the police was not interested to further any actions on the case. They possibly want to protect their own men from potential liability and humiliation.
I have high regard for the policemen and still believed in the system. But after this incident, I have lost some respect and trust to those who were involved.
After discussions with my siblings and some deep thought, I decided not to pursue the case for two reasons: First, it would be a long and tedious process and I may put the lives of my loved ones at risk for a possible backlash; Secondly, I looked at it from a positive angle and thanked God for sparing our lives. In fact I was right there in that very unit with my wife and kids just four days before the incident. To top it all, my mother who normally spends most of her time in that kitchen was out of town during that month. Indeed, we were all saved.
This incident taught me there really is no safe place on earth today. Not even your own home. There are even people who get killed by stray bullets while simply lying in the privacy of their own bedroom, or people swallowed by sinkholes beneath their houses. If it happened to me, it could happen to you.