MANILA, Philippines - An autopsy report on slain hostage-taker Rolando Mendoza revealed that he was shot 8 times during the 12-hour hostage crisis in Manila last August 23.
The autopsy report, a copy of which was shown to ABS-CBN News, showed that Mendoza sustained a gunshot wound to the head, just above the right eyebrow.
He was also shot twice in the neck, twice in the left shoulder, twice in the arm and once in the left leg.
Last August 23, Mendoza hijacked a tourist bus with 25 people onboard in a bid to be reinstated in the country's police force. The 12-hour hostage crisis ended in tragedy with Mendoza and 8 of his hostages killed.
Police earlier said 58 spent shells were recovered from inside the bullet-riddled Hong Thai Travel tour bus that Mendoza hijacked last week. All 58 shells were from the hostage-taker, they said.
But as many as 20 bullets were also fired by the assault team based on documents obtained by ABS-CBN News. The bullets hit different parts of the bus, including the windshield, driver's side window, a window near some of the passengers, the bus's tires; and, a window near the door.
An ABS-CBN News source, meanwhile, said 2 police snipers and a spotter were stationed at the bleachers of the Quirino Grandstand.
Some snipers were targeting the driver's side of the bus while others were facing the entrance of the bus.
When police fired teargas inside the vehicle, the hostage-taker moved to the front of the bus where he was targeted by the snipers.
Some members of the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team involved in the bus assault revealed that they provided cover fire during the assault by shooting into the air. They said the gunfire did not hit the bus.
Two of the snipers also admitted that they shot and hit Mendoza at least 4 times. This means that investigators will have to determine who shot Mendoza 4 more times.
Policemen who joined the assault on the hijacked bus have turned over their firearms to the crime laboratory for ballistic testing.
No overkill in Mendoza shooting
A former chief of the Manila police SWAT team said police did not commit overkill against the hostage-taker if he was only shot 8 times.
"Maraming designated snipers. Maaaring ang nangyari nasa line of fire lahat. Sabay-sabay nagpaputok dahil sighted nila pare-pareho," Judge Jaime Santiago, a former SWAT team leader, said.
Santiago said that during hostage situations, police will try to capture the hostage-taker alive.
However, law enforcers can decide to neutralize the hostage-taker if there is increased risk in the lives of the hostages and if the hostage-taker issues an ultimatum.
During the August 23 hostage crisis, the hostage-taker gave a 3 p.m. deadline to authorities regarding his demand that he be reinstated in the police force and all charges against him dropped. The deadline was extended several times until Mendoza started shooting his hostages and police decided to storm the bus.
Santiago said snipers also follow a so-called T-factor in taking out a hostage-taker. The T-factor indicates the parts of the human body that could be shot by snipers to neutralize a hostile person.
He said the most vulnerable point on a victim's body is the head, which is what snipers might have done to take out Mendoza.
Maan Macapagal, ABS-CBN News