Politician Accidentally Captures His Own Assassin on Camera

Reynaldo Dagsa, a local councilman in Manila, Philippines, was celebrating on New Year’s Eve with his family when he was shot in the chest and later died on the way to the hospital. His family later discovered that Dagsa had accidentally captured his killer on camera while taking a picture of his wife and daughter moments before he was shot.

The photo was handed over to police and the Philippine Daily Inquirer, which published the photo on its front page. This resulted in the identification and arrest of the assassin, a suspected car thief named Michael Gonzales whose arrest was ordered by Dagsa last year. A lookout named Rommel Oliva was also captured on camera (seen to Gonzales’ right) and is being hunted by police.

  • Anonymous


  • Photosophy

    Mr. Zhang, care to enlighten us as to why you posted a photograph of homicide on your blog?
    Why are you reaching for the bottom of the barrel….with self mutilating psychos bolting cameras to their heads…Alabama red necks using chickens as toys…and now photos of an actual murderer in the act…
    At least The Big Picture blog posts warnings that viewers have to manually click through to view this kind of content.

    Since I have no interest in this sort of thing, nor being surprised by it when I just wander in, I doubt I’ll frequent your blog anymore.

    Be wary of the type of audience you cultivate with this sort of content…it’s a slippery slope.

  • Umiaq

    I understand photosophy’s objection. I love your blog and clicked to read the story- when it opened to that grueling shot.. I was moved to tears. I am not so inured to violence as some, perhaps, but this is the actual last moment of the photographer’s life. It is shocking and intense to see that stark shot. I think a warning perhaps was in order. Like war photography, I think the photo deserves to be seen- just a little preparation perhaps before being smacked in the face with it. I still love the blog!

  • Michael Zhang

    You’re right. Sorry for not providing more of a warning for what this story was about, but it’s actually a story that’s being reported EVERYWHERE right now (e.g. front page of CNN, NPR, ABC). Since it directly has to do with the role photography played in a news story and because it’s being so widely reported, I thought it would be relevant to share here as well. I’ll try to find a way to provide more of a warning in the future though.

  • Michael

    Nothing offensive here. A very powerful image that deserves to be seen. I for one thank Michael for bringing it to our attention.

  • Saiko006

    doesn’t the TITLE man captures assassin on camera SPELL IT OUT FOR YOU ALL?

  • BillMaherIsRight

    The thing is a bit gruesome when one considers that the dude was shot right in front of his family.

    Still, it is an interesting photo given the timing and the subject matter. I don’t see any problem with it being posted. Thin-skinned, right wing, moral majority freaks are gonna have a problem with it but then again, who really cares what they think!?!

  • Seshan

    Did he remove a picture? because I don’t see what everyone is bitching about, and the tittle alone should give a hint.

  • Photosophy

    People responding to their humanity is not the same as people acting out a political agenda.
    It’s possible for people to react simply out of compassion, with no intellectual or religious motives.

  • Gybp

    bye photosophy

  • Photosophy

    This was the first I had seen of the story and image, so it caught me off guard. I didn’t think too much of the photo until I read the headline and copy, and then it took on very different overtones.

    I very much like your blog because of the density and quality of content…it’s only certain subjects like this that sort of pee in the pool…for me, anyways. ;-)

    I think what I’ll do is follow you on Twitter – that way if there’s a “PG” warning in the headline, I’ll know to skip the post or be ready for it.

  • Photosophy

    This was the first I had seen of the story and image, so it caught me off guard. I didn’t think too much of the photo until I read the headline and copy, and then it took on very different overtones.

    I very much like your blog because of the density and quality of content…it’s only certain subjects like this that sort of pee in the pool…for me, anyways. ;-)

    I think what I’ll do is follow you on Twitter – that way if there’s a “PG” warning in the headline, I’ll know to skip the post or be ready for it.

  • Duncan Kinney

    When you clicked, what exactly did you expect to see? I would add “you moron” to that sentence but I believe it’s implied.

  • Kbledsoephoto

    For one, I will continue reading this blog. I’d like to see the image that was removed, if there was one. I don’t find the first image to be offensive. And I agree with Saiko006 and Seshan that the TITLE alone should give you warning. If you don’t want to read it, and aren’t prepared by the TITLE, then don’t. Period.

  • Photosophy

    It isn’t until you read the story that the success of the assassin is confirmed.
    At that point, the photo goes from being merely strange to being disturbing.

  • Photosophy

    None of you can defend the fact that you find no offense in the image of a person murdering another in front of his wife and kids.

    Absolutely none of you.

  • Tyler Webb

    Hmm, you’ve been pretty low key and generous in your responses until this point I think.

    That is a pretty large assumption you’ve made considering the varied ways one could respond to such a photo. To say that everyone must feel offence or their humanity and even that of the entire audience, is called into question?

    I find the picture moving and incredible, an amazing window and mirror into an instant and a life, many lives, but offensive? Is my humanity supposed to be offended? My sense of moral decency? Those are two completely different things, the blame for each residing in vastly different locations.

    Please feel free to be affected, and feel as you would freely, but please stop a step short of calling everyone into question when they don’t have the backlash you do.

  • Photosophy

    I appreciate your thoughtful response.

    However, I don’t consider it unreasonable to desire that one’s fellow human beings be moved to grief at the presentation of such an event…that they feel sadness in tragedy, injustice in the violent loss of another….rather than boldly stating their lack of affect or their admiration of such visuals.

    People can use any rationalization they like to justify their feelings and response.
    But no one escapes the accounting of what extent they’ve forsaken their compassion and idealism for cynicism and rhetoric.

    It is not with me, but within each, that the argument of humanity ultimately lies…

  • D.Coombe

    I thought you were leaving or are you having trouble finding your high horse?

    That is a very powerful picture and disturbing on many levels and I’m glad Michael posted it. In hindsight he should have had a warning and a link so those such of yourself would not be taken by surprise. Mind you, I’m guessing you would have clicked on it anyways.

    What I find offensive is you lambasting him for some of his other posts. It’s Michael’s blog, he should be allowed to post whatever he pleases.

  • Tyler Webb

    Your as well,

    I wouldn’t necessarily consider it unreasonable, but grief manifests itself in many different ways. Some of which aren’t meant to be conveyed through comment forms, some of which can’t be. I understand there is a much larger context to the issue we’re talking about that goes far and beyond just this blog post, but for the most part I believe we’re still talking about just this blog post.

    Myself, I could be moved to grief at the presentation of this photo but it would not be because of the shocking instant recognition of the event, it would be from the slow and painful realization of everything the event held and said about our forsaken compassion and humanity. You yourself mentioned that the photo was ‘merely strange’ at first and only upon further reading bumped up (or down) to disturbing.

    What I’m getting at is simply that a link to extend or make a choice of the instant viewing of the picture doesn’t change the matter all that much, as it is the realization within ourselves of everything this moment (inside and out of) speaks to that breeds the true horror.

  • ringo


  • Campbell Nicol

    No, the title tells you that the assassin was successful, otherwise it would have said “would be assassin.” You might have missed it, and that is fair enough, but i think everyone else know what they were opening.

  • Tyler Webb

    -Please Remove-

  • Dond

    @Photosophy Hopefully someone will invent a softer version of the internet for people with your delicate sensibilities.

  • Photosophy

    Do you perceive me to be on a high horse because you perhaps abide egregiously low standards?

    And for the record, I did not have to click anything to view that blog post – I came to the blog via bookmark to Petapixel. The post and photo were front and center at the top of the page. I couldn’t avoid it if I wanted.

    And you are correct, on his blog, Michael is allowed to post whatever he wants.
    And since he provides a comments section, anyone may offer their responses to that content.

    Don’t contrive the freedom of expression into dictatorial edicts.

  • Photosophy


  • M from ANIMAL

    Michael, you should not be apologizing for this. All the stories this commenter is incapable of finding interesting – Wafaa Bilal’s artistic practice especially – are what makes this blog so great.
    The photograph above is a historically significant and poignant and one has to be willingly ignorant of the world that surrounds him to find it not worthy of publication in a PHOTOGRAPHY BLOG. You won’t be losing much from this person’s departure from PetaPixel. They probably take photos exclusively of sunsets and flowers.

  • Photosophy

    As I mentioned in another reply, I didn’t have to open anything.
    I came to the blog via browser bookmark, and the post with photo was at the top of the page front and center.
    In journalism today, I don’t rely on headlines as they are crafted a for brevity and sensationalism, not accuracy.

  • Photosophy

    Yeah, I’m a totally bizarre person in that respect.
    My tastes don’t include photos of people being murdered in front of their families….

    Go figure.

  • Kbledsoephoto


    The whole blog post wasn’t about the photograph that you find distasteful. It was about the fact that the photographer managed to capture the identity of his assassin. I find that amazing and incredibly lucky, and hopefully the man will be caught along with his “lookout”.

    You’ve said many times you are leaving. And yet, we continue to see your responses. I’m not saying that you should quit responding, I’m saying that you are going back on your word that you won’t be reading his blog anymore.

    I think it’s obvious that out of all of his readers, you are one of maybe two people who have posted here that were offended. You say you couldn’t avoid seeing the photograph. What I find interesting is that honestly, the photograph itself isn’t what would make me offended or terrify me. The story itself does. I can think of MANY other photographs that are more offensive and disgusting such as Wanting a Meal by Kevin Carter.

    You obviously are easily offended by photographs that are not actually gruesome. You must find the entire story distasteful.

    I would encourage you to find a blog that posts about flowers and scenery photography rather than real life experiences and real life thoughts and feelings about everything that happens in the real world.

  • SN

    Thank you for posting this photo and story.
    I don’t see how this is any different from some of the amazing war photographs I have seen over the years. It doesn’t show the murder, just the murderer and it is far less extreme than some of the photos published in the mainstream media.

  • DM|ZE

    Not to continue a flame war but I can understand that a warning should be there. The more I think about the image and look at it the more it affects me. It is a moving picture, one that does fit into this blog nicely. It makes you think of what photographic evidence is sitting on film or in digital format all over the world that no one has discovered yet. It is absolutely tragic that this happened, especially in front of his wife and daughters. I personally like this blog and it’s content and I don’t think of myself as a a “bad” person but then again who does! Photosophy, thanks for your thoughts on the matter but in reality if you don’t like the content move on, some people find this stuff interesting. At least the photo helped to identify and capture the person.

  • Henryscat666

    This photograph being PUBLISHED in the paper led to the capture and conviction of the man. I’m glad the editor didn’t find it too morally disturbing to print…

  • alien

    What’s wrong with sunsets and flowers?

    What do you enjoy? Snuff films?

    The guy was totally right about the sh*t people coming out of the woodowork

  • alien

    Another on with a problem with flowers and scenery.

    Are you people totally dead inside or what?

  • Kbledsoephoto

    I’m just talking with my love for photojournalism style portraits, and candids. It’s my love and i can’t stand flowers and scenery.

  • JustACommenter

    He must be a pretty intelligent Troglodyte to post a reply online. Also, you are a douche.

  • Blurry Bob and the StephenHawk

    Watch Vsauce’s If. It led me here.

  • Ezadsko

    What did you expect when you clicked the damned link? Muppet….

  • ProsingAwesomely

    Pff. Prude.

  • Kris J Boorman

    Because if you don’t like pedestrian photos you are a fan of murder.

  • unknown

    yes yes this was actually the center of the news here n the philipines….filipinos tend to believe it was the man’s last Luck….how do you know if it was luck when he was meant to die in new year’s eve?

  • Jahmai Trapp

    why did you have to announce that your were leaving….did you need us to care?

  • Tim Collins

    If you cannot find someone taking a picture of their family at the very second they were shot then I generally pity you.