Killing of DOTA player Joshua Laxamana in ‘police shootout’ sparks outcry

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17-year old Joshua Laxamana was making a name for himself in the esports scene when he was slain in an alleged police shootout. (Facebook photo from Joshua Laxamana's profile)

Human rights groups and advocates are crying out against the fatal shooting of 17-year old Joshua Laxamana, who was shot during an alleged shootout with police.

Laxamana, known as an expert player in multiplayer online battle arena game Defense of the Ancients 2 in his hometown of Tarlac, was last seen departing for Baguio City with two friends on August 15. The three were believed to be on the way to join a Dota tournament.

The encounter where Laxamana lost his list life took place on August 16, when he allegedly exchanged gunshots with police officers after dodging a mandatory checkpoint while riding a motorcycle, according to reports.

Laxamana’s mother was only able to see her son’s body four days after the incident. A .45 caliber pistol and narcotics were also reportedly found on the motorcycle he was riding.

The police named him as a suspect in a string of burglary cases in Pangasinan, according to the reports.

Details of Laxamana’s death have been described in a twitter thread from documentary photographer Ezra Acayan and a press statement from rights group Rise Up for Life and for Rights.

Friends and family have denied that Laxamana could have been involved in the crimes imputed on him, as his attention was focus solely on his gaming.

His mother denied that Laxamana was driving a motorcycle as he could neither drive nor afford one.

The tattoo on Laxamana’s forearm, which according to Acayan was claimed by the police to be the ‘mark of a notorious burglar’ has been confirmed by Philippine-based esports journal Mineski.net to be a tattoo of the “Queen of Pain,” one of the playable avatars in Dota 2.

Fifteen year-old Julius Sebastian, one of Laxamana’s companions, has been reported missing and is yet to be found as of this writing. The group’s surviving companion who returned to Tarlac has reportedly remained anonymous and out of reach from the media.

The death of Laxamana, who uses the in-game alias “imadotes,” has also reached international esports outlets.

Human rights advocated and critics of the administration’s war on drugs dubious of authorities’ claims have called out for justice.

Some Dota players have also spoken out following the incident.

Rise Up for Life and Rights, one of the first groups to take note of the incident, has called for an independent investigation.

The fatal shooting of Laxamana came in the same month as the anniversary of the killing of 17-year old drug suspect Kian delos Santos, who was shot to death during a buybust operation in Caloocan City in August 2017.

Human rights group Amnesty International in December 2017 reported that at least 60 children have been killed in anti-drug operations conducted by authorities since June 2016.