A lawyer was shot by an unidentified assailant inside his office at the Leq Tak building in downtown Dumaguete City at about 11:10 a.m. yesterday for a still undetermined reason.
H Lawyer Archer Baldwin Ricardo Martinez, 47, was shot three times in the chest and abdomen and was rushed to the Holy Child Hospital, a few blocks away from his office, where he died a few hours later.
Initial police investigation showed that the gunman, his face uncovered and only wearing a ball cap, walked into the lawyer’s office shortly after Martinez had arrived.
Other people who were present during the incident were his secretary, a niece, Suzette Garcia, who was working as an on-the-job trainee, his associate lawyer Cynthia Sulit Portugaleza and her secretary, Lorna Haliring, and some clients.
Portugaleza said Martinez had just arrived at their office and even nodded at her while she was in her cubicle, attending to three clients.
She saw the side view of a man who later turned out to be the suspect closely following Martinez, Portugaleza said. He was wearing a white t-shirt, a cap, jeans and had a jacket slung over an arm, she said.
Portugaleza’s secretary, Lorna Haliring, said she only looked up briefly but was busy doing some paperwork on her desk.Suzette Garcia, meanwhile, was at her desk near Martinez’ cubicle, which only had a wooden partition between that of his associate lawyer.
Haliring and Portugaleza said they heard three bursts of what seemed like gunshots but thought that there was a commotion outside of the building.
Haliring said she stood up to get out of the office to see what happened and heard Garcia screaming after seeing Martinez all bloodied and slumped on the floor.
The women cried out for help as Martinez’ wife, Gina, who was at a boutique at the ground floor of the Le Taq building arrived after being notified.
Other people who were also in the building said they heard the gunshots but did not have any idea what was happening until they learned shortly that Martinez was shot.
Early police investigation said witnesses described the gunman as having fled on foot towards the Rizal Boulevard, just a few hundred meters away from the law office and turned right towards the coastal village of Tinago, said Dumaguete OIC police chief Sr. Insp. Eddie Oira.
Police recovered three spent shells of .45 caliber and a live round at the crime scene.
A city-wide manhunt operation was underway for the perpetrator yesterday.
Portugaleza said she was in the operating room with Martinez’ wife while doctors performed surgery on the victim but had left shortly before Martinez expired around 2:05 p.m.
She said that she was not aware of sensitive cases that Martinez was handling although she hinted that he was handling some land dispute cases in Bayawan City, more than 100 kilometers south of this capital city.
Martinez is survived by his wife, Gina, and four children. He was from Manjuyod, Negros Oriental, and finished law studies at Silliman University in Dumaguete.
He was also teaching law subjects at Foundation University in Dumaguete City.*JFP/JG
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