Philippine killer picture tops Time Magazine’s best viral shots | Global News

Philippine killer picture tops Time Magazine’s best viral shots

By: - Reporter / @TarraINQ
/ 07:07 PM December 16, 2011

INQUIRER EXCLUSIVE. Seconds after taking this picture of his smiling family outside his home in Caloocan City in the early hours of New Year’s Day, councilman Reynaldo Dagsa lay dead of a gunshot wound. The police did not have to look far for evidence of the killer’s identity. The Inquirer published the photo on its front page and it quickly went viral on the Web.

It’s that chilling shot of an amateur photographer that sent the world clicking the “share” button.

The last photo taken by Caloocan City councilman Reynaldo Dagsa of his family—which by a stroke of chance also captured the assassin aiming a gun at Dagsa—was selected by photo editors of the prestigious TIME magazine as among the world’s “best viral photos” of 2011.


First published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer frontpage  and uploaded on on Jan. 4, 2011, the photo taken by Dagsa just moments before he was killed on New Year’s Day eventually led to the arrest of the assassin and his accomplice.


Extraordinary story

Inquirer reporter Kristine Felisse Mangunay got a copy of the photo from the police file on Jan. 3, not thinking that doing the rounds of her beat that day would lead her to an extraordinary story.

“It was an ordinary day,” Mangunay recalled.  “I went to the police station to do the usual rounds.  The intelligence chief told me that a barangay councilor was shot dead and that ‘there is even a picture of it,’” Mangunay said.

“He showed me the entire case folder and everything was there, including the photo, a hard copy.”

The reporter, who had been covering the northern Metro Manila beat for just three months, felt an initial shock upon seeing the photo.


“I didn’t know what to do at first. I felt the picture was incredible, that it might be fake,” Mangunay said.

“The police told me the (Dagsa) family provided the photo so I had to look for the family to confirm it. When I spoke to his wife, I got the confirmation,” she added.

Sharing spree

The photo was published on the entire upper fold of the Inquirer a day after. Other media outfits eventually caught up and published the same photo, fueling a sharing spree online.

The list was published online on Thursday on TIME LightBox, the official blog of the US magazine’s photo department. While the list was posted in no particular order, Dagsa’s photo appeared first in the gallery.

Dagsa’s last shot shares the list with moments already bookmarked in history: a photo of a bloodied Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi in his final moments in October; a picture of US President Barack Obama and top American leaders watching live the Navy Seals operation to capture Osama bin Laden in May; and a photo of British Prince William and Kate Middleton’s first kiss as a married couple on April 29.

“The photograph, taken just after midnight on 1 January, was released by Dagsa’s family on 4 January. It was published on the front page of The Philippine Daily Inquirer and then quickly went viral,” read the LightBox caption of the photo.

Once in a lifetime

Dagsa was taking a picture of his family minutes into the New Year when, apparently unknowingly, he captured his shooter, Michael Gonzales, taking aim at him.

The councilor of Barangay 35, Maypajo, Caloocan City, was felled by Gonzales’ shot after clicking his camera.

Fireworks drowned the sound of the gunshot, giving Gonzales and his accomplice, Rommel Olivia, time to flee.

Writing about the TIME photo editors’ picks, Nick Carbone, a TIME writer on technology, culture and society, described this year’s gallery as “once-in-a-lifetime” shots that “we couldn’t help but share.”

“As shocking as the subject matter is the simplicity of some images. A few came from mobile phones. Most were snapped without a thought of—or time to handle—composition or lighting. One was even taken by a man who would be dead minutes later,” said Carbone, described on TIME’s website as “a viral video fanatic and gadget connoisseur.”

Dagsa’s picture and the story of how he took it also made the news overseas. With a report from

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TAGS: Caloocan City, Crime, Kristine Felisse Mangunay, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Photo, Time Magazine

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