2 task groups still puzzled by killings in Angeles City

    ANGELES CITY – Two police task groups created to probe into the killing of an American and a Briton here last week have not made much progress in solving their murders, except for ruling out robbery as motive for the crimes and suspecting the probability of a gun-for-hire group in the case of the Briton.

    City police director Senior Supt. Danny Bautista now heads Task Group Basham to look into the killing of American James Basham, 63, who was shot dead in barangay Pampang here last Sept. 19, and Task Group Jones probing the case of British national Bruce Anthony Jones, 50, who was shot dead in barangay Pulong Maragul, also in this city, a day later on Sept.21.

    Bautista told Punto that “professionals” seemed to have been involved in the killing of Jones who was shot dead in his car. Jones’ wife Maricel survived gunshot wounds.

    Apart from the testimony of the wife on death threats Jones had been receiving at their residence in Olongapo City, as well as his alleged involvement in the smuggling of high powered arms, the “manner of killing him” indicated the perpetrators were gun-for-hire criminals, Bautista noted.

    A .45 calibre pistol was used to kill Jones, while the gunman in the killing of Basham apparently used an improvised short pistol or revolver with armalite bullets, he said.

    Suspects in both cases were riding in tandem with their accomplices on motorcycles without plate numbers. Jones sustained several gunshot wounds after being attacked while driving his car after shopping at a local mall. Basham was killed by a lone bullet shot from behind him as he was about to board his motorcycle after doing some marketing.

    Bautista said there is yet no conclusive evidence that could link Jones’ killing to his alleged involvement in gun smuggling.

    His group as of yesterday still had to get verification from the Bureau of Customs’ Intelligence and Investigation Service (IIS) that Jones was turned into a state witness in the Panama-registered ship MV Ufuk which was found with 54 high powered Indonesian made Galil rifles in wooden crates while the vessel was anchored off the shores of Mariveles, Bataan in July last year. The arms were estimated to be worth P25 million. 

    Fifteen more empty wooden crates were also found, prompting probers to conclude that more arms had already been brought to shore via the port in Mariveles.

    “We think it is very possible that Jones’ killing could be related to that case,” Bautista said.
    Thirteen Georgian crewmen and a South African on board were arrested, but Jones was not among them as he apparently was elsewhere during the raid by the Bureau of Customs’ IIS.

    Jones was later arrested on illegal drugs charges in Olongapo but later posted bail. His being identified as the caption of the ship in Mariveles reportedly paved the way to his being state witness to pin down persons for whom the arms were intended.

    Bautista said members of  Task Group Jones were still gathering more data on Jones from Olongapo, as well as from the Quezon City Tax Appeals Court to ascertain Jones’s status on the smuggling case.

    The Tax Appeals Court, in Criminal Case No. 0-170 pertaining to the arms smuggling, named several respondents whose names sounded either foreign or local.


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