Police: Shooting of Bukidnon town councilor could be due to grudge

Jun. 17, 2021

A relative holds a portrait of the late Susan Gayonan, the municipal councilor of Talakag, Bukidnon, who was gunned down in Barangay San Antonio of the same town on Saturday afternoon. (Jigger Jerusalem/davaotoday.com)

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – Despite claims by relatives that the Bukidnon town council member who was gunned down Saturday afternoon near her home had no known enemies, investigation of the police has led to personal grudge as the motive for the killing.

Killed by two still-unidentified motorcycle-riding gunmen outside a small store in Barangay San Antonio was Susan Gayonan, 64, municipal councilor of Talakag, Bukidnon.

Gayonan was declared dead on arrival by attending physicians at the local hospital in Talakag, while two of her relatives are now confined in separate medical facilities in Cagayan de Oro.

According to Maj. Dennis Rowell Flores, their initial investigation has revealed that someone may have hold grudges against Gayonan.

Flores, however, did not elaborate as they are still gathering more evidence, although he noted that they are already “60 percent” of their investigation.

“We need more testimonial and circumstantial evidence so we can have an airtight case against the suspects,” he added.

Flores said footages from CCTV cameras installed along the highway by private businesses have also been helpful in tracing the suspects.

Meanwhile, Gayonan’s relatives are optimistic the police will catch the perpetrators soon.

“I hope those who killed my aunt will be brought to justice,” said Chanda Cabañero, one of the witnesses who was at the crime scene when two suspects shot Gayonan.

Cabañero said she was at the store with Gayonan and several of their relatives when the assailants arrived and started shooting at the councilwoman.

“We saw the men in motorcycle, but we paid no mind as motorcycle-riding workers usually stop by and buy something from the store. We did not suspect anything,” she said.

The witness said the gunmen tried to verify if their target was indeed at the store, and when they did ascertain, they approach the victim.

“We saw them carrying guns and as soon as they got nearer, me and my nephew ran to the back of the store,” Cabañero said, adding she did not know what happened next, but only to hear gunshots seconds later.

During the shooting, the police said a stray bullet hit Donna Mae Timtim’s head, 29, single, who was inside the store at the time.

Another bullet wounded Luther Joey Bustillo, 32, and a traffic enforcer in the town.

Timtim and Bustillo are Gayonan’s niece and nephew, respectively.

Flores said Bustillo tried to grab one of the suspect’s weapon, but he was overpowered and was hit instead.

He said Timtim is in a coma as the bullet hit her head, while Bustillo is now recovering.

The police chief said it was raining at the time of the shooting and there were several people outside the store who sought shelter from the rain.

“Seeing there were people around Councilor Gayonan, one of the gunmen fired a warning shot forcing everyone to scatter in different directions. That’s when they began to shoot the victim,” Flores said.

He said a shot missed Gayonan’s head, went through the store’s wooden wall and hit Timtim instead.

Flores said the police’s forensics team found five empty shells of a .45 caliber handgun on the crime scene.

Cabañero said she found it hard to believe that someone was out to kill Gayonan since the councilor was known in the whole town to be kind and generous to the residents.

“She would even borrow money just so she can give to those who ask for her help. She had no enemies here,” she added.

Abie Bustillo, Gayonan’s brother, also confirmed that the councilor had no known adversaries, whether personal or political.

Bustillo said he was also at the same store but left before the shooting started.

“We were there discussing what to cook for our fiesta (June 13). I went home and five minutes later, my sister was shot,” he said.

He said her sister’s death was a shock to the family and the whole community in San Antonio.

“She had been a public servant for quite some time. She served as barangay captain here in San Antonio. She also became an [Association of Barangay Councils] president for three terms. And recently, she was a municipal councilor,” Bustillo said.

He said the family are still in disbelief over Gayonan’s death.

“Our family has no enemies, she had no enemies. That’s why it’s a mystery why it has to happen to her,” Bustillo added.

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