Lawyer’s slay in US ‘could be case of mistaken identity’ – Cato
MANILA, Philippines — The fatal shooting last Saturday of a Filipino lawyer visiting the United States “could be a case of mistaken identity,” said Philippine Consul General in New York Elmer Cato.
The envoy tweeted that update on Tuesday, as he cited sources from the Philadelphia police who said the gunmen in the killing of lawyer John Albert “Jal” Laylo might have fired at the Uber vehicle that he and his mother rode early on Saturday because they thought that was the car they were chasing.
According to Cato, initial police reports said the suspects were on board another car that was behind the vehicle bringing the Laylos.
The 35-year-old lawyer and his mother, Leah Bustamante Laylo, were on their way to Philadelphia International Airport to catch a flight to Chicago before dawn on Saturday.
They were traveling to the United States to visit relatives. Cato said their last visit before returning to the Philippines would have been California.
Laylo was hit at the back of his head while his mother had minor injuries from glass shards from the shattered car window.
In an interview with dzBB on Monday, the elder Laylo said the Uber driver stopped the car and ran away.
Mother and son were rushed to the Penn Presbyterian Medical Center where the younger Laylo was put on life support. He died at around 10 a.m. on Sunday.
“It was so painful to see [what happened to] my son and I [couldn’t] do anything,” Leah Laylo said.
‘Jal deserves justice’
Incoming Secretary of Migrant Workers Susan Ople urged Cato to maintain his coordination “so that the entire Philadelphia police force would know that we, Jal’s ‘kababayans’ (compatriots) in the Philippines and around the world are watching.”
“Evil triumphs when the good easily surrenders. Jal deserves justice,” Ople said on Twitter.
In response, Cato said the consulate has “underscored to [the Philadelphia police] the importance we place on the resolution of this case.”
He added that he is due to meet with Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney and Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw regarding the investigation into Laylo’s killing.
Kenney said the Philadelphia police and the city’s Commission on Human Relations are on top of that matter.
On Tuesday the mayor said on Twitter: “I’m appalled to learn of this heinous and senseless crime that has completely devastated an entire family. Mr. Laylo’s loved ones are in my prayers.”
He added: “This is another horrific example of the tragic impact of the prevalence of guns in our city: whether it’s a visitor or a native Philadelphian affected, there are too many guns on our streets, with devastating consequences.”
In a statement on the City of Philadelphia website on June 6, some two weeks before Laylo’s killing, Kenney acknowledged what he called the “steep rise in gun violence,” of which two more incidents were reported several hours after the Filipino lawyer’s death.
There have also been more reports of gun violence across America, including a mass shooting last month in Texas.
Members of the Filipino community in this city in the northeastern state of Pennsylvania held a memorial vigil Monday night outside the Penn Presbyterian Medical Center where Laylo had expired.
His family has also appealed for donations.
According to an account set up on fundraising platform GoFundMe: “The Laylo family is asking for your financial support to help them get John repatriated… to the Philippines so that his loved ones can say their goodbyes. Any help is greatly appreciated.”
Althea Laylo, the lawyer’s sister, said earlier his organs would be donated so that “somewhere in the world, a piece of him is alive and beating.”
“Thank you so much for all the love and support. It is difficult, but we are trying to cope,” she said on Twitter.
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