Filipino Charged With Murder But Claims He Did Not Kill Anybody

by Joseph G. Lariosa

CHICAGO (JGL) —  A Filipino, who claims to be a U.S. immigrant, denied shooting anybody inside an Ohio bar Sunday (March 9), according to Deputy Consul General Romulo Victor M. Israel, Jr. of the Philippine Consulate General of the Midwest in Chicago, Illinois.

Under Vienna Convention, a foreign national accused of criminal violation has a right to contact his nearest Consulate/Embassy to preserve his civil and legal rights shortly after he is arrested.

Igmidio Mista, 33, was allowed to talk to Deputy Consul General Israel over the phone Monday (March 10) while in detention in the Sandusky County Jail in Fremont, Ohio.

Speaking in his native Tagalog, the Manila-born Mista told Israel that he did not know who did the shooting. “Nor did he mention hitting someone. He simply insisted he did not commit the crime, that he was just a customer and he left when a commotion erupted in the bar and gunshots were fired.”

Israel “strongly advised” Mista “to insist on having a public defender to ensure that his rights are protected under the law.”

Mista was arrested Monday a day after the shooting incident inside Last Call Bar in Fremont resulted in the death of an off-duty police officer celebrating a belated birthday and two other men and injuring another.

Killed were Elmore, Ohio police officer Jose Andy Chavez, 26, Ramiro Sanchez, 28, bartender and musician, and Daniel Ramirez, 25, a bar patron who may be celebrating with the birthday party, and injuring Ramiro Arreola, 25. Arreola was taken to the hospital and was later released.

Municipal Court Judge Bob Hart of Fremont charged Mista with three counts of murder and ordered Mista held without bond following opposition mounted by Fremont City Prosecutor Jim Melle against the release of Mista, who described Mista a flight risk, saying Mista had used relatives to evade authorities in the past and he is not a U. S. citizen.

Mista is represented by public defender, Attorney Zachary Selvey.

Israel said the staff of Department of Homeland Security contacted the Philippine Consulate Monday about the arrest and detention of Mista. He was allowed to (make a recorded) call to Sandusky County Jail and speak to Mista.

He said the DHS and Sandusky County officer did not raise any question about Mista having two Philippine passports.

MISTA INDICATED HIS STATUS AS IMMIGRANT

Israel said based on the Consulate’s records, Mista “applied for passport renewal in 2011 (valid until 2016) and he indicated his status as immigrant.”

Israel said the DHS officer “did mention that he is out of status.” He added Mista was a tourist when he came to the U.S. When he renewed his passport in the Consulate in 2011, Mista indicated in his application that his status was an immigrant.”

Israel clarified there is no problem having two passports – his old and new – “as long as he doesn’t have two or more valid passports.”

Israel said the Consulate is going to follow closely developments of Mista’s case.

In an email to this reporter, Fremont Chief of Police Tim Wiersma said, “We are not answering questions about the investigation, yet. The investigation continues and information will be released at a later time.”

Wiersma said Mista’s “passport had expired and that he had been in this country legally prior to that.  Mista was in possession of two passports.  Mista was charged with the Murder of three.  He is a Filipino National.  The Filipino consulate was contacted as he is a citizen of their country.  The matter is still under investigation and we are not listing a motive at this time.”

Khaalid Walls, Public Affairs Officer of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Detroit, Michigan, told this reporter in an email that U.S. ICE “has lodged an immigration detainer against Mr. Mista, which indicates ICE’s interest in pursuing immigration enforcement action at the conclusion of the local proceedings against him.”

Walls added, “By issuing a detainer, ICE requests that a law enforcement agency notify ICE before releasing an alien and maintain custody of the subject for a period not to exceed 48 hours, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays, to allow ICE to assume custody.  Detainers are critical to ICE achieving its mission to identify and remove criminal aliens. “

It was reported that Mista got into an argument with Chavez’s unidentified wife and ended up punching her in the face.

Ramiro Arreola told The Fremont News Messenger, “A little scuffle broke out, he felt he needed to pull a gun out. Just started shooting everybody, innocent bystanders.”

The victim’s uncle, Manuel Chavez, was quoted by Sandusky Register, as saying, “My nephew jumped on this guy.” Then, Mista left the bar but came back and started shooting.

Fremont Chief of Police Wiersma said Mista is in the United States illegally and could be deported after “facing justice in Sandusky County,” which has jurisdiction over Fremont.

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PHOTO CAPTION AND CREDIT

Mug shot of Igmidio “Roger” Mista (Photo Courtesy of Fremont, Ohio Police Department)

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