By Lesley Caminade Vestil
Cebu City – A police officer was killed by an alleged drug dealer, who was also felled by bullets during a gunfight yesterday afternoon in Barangay Tulay, this city.
The police identified the alleged drug dealer as Jovelio “Juvie” Franz who they described as a notorious distributor of drugs in Minglanilla and neighboring towns. Police said he is also a gun-for-hire and is the No. 1 high-value target in the list.
The police officer who was killed was identified as Police Officer 2 Evie Espina. He is the first police officer killed after Operation Tokhang was resumed last month.
According to investigation, the Minglanilla Police conducted a buy bust operation after receiving information on the presence of Franza in the area.
Espina, who was the “decoy” of the operation, was gunned down by Franza who sensed that he was transacting with a police officer.
The police officer was hit in the head. Franza tried to escape while firing at the responding policemen, but he a bullet found his head and killed him instantly.
Franza was declared dead on arrival at the Minglanilla District Hospital while Espina who suffered gunshot wounds in the head was rushed to South General Hospital. He died a few hours later.
Police recovered a sling bag that was owned by Franza’s live-in partner, Evageline Briones, who escaped during the operation together with other suspects. The bag contained Briones’ voters ID, a .38 revolver, and live ammunition.
Also recovered was a 9mm pistol that was owned by a police officer, SPO4 Razul dela Pena Segismar, who was ambushed last February 14, 2015 at Ward 4 Minglanilla town.
Operatives also recovered packs of suspected shabu with an estimated street value of P500,000, a motorcycle, and a hand grenade that was found in the compartment of the motorcycle.
Police Regional Office Director, Chief Superintendent Robert Quenery said that the entire PRO7 mourns the death of Espina who left behind a wife and four children.
Meanwhile, Minglanilla Municipality placed its flag to half-mast in honoring the heroic act of PO2 Espina.