Four suspected holdup men were killed in a shootout with authorities in Lucena City, Quezon, early Wednesday, police said.

Three suspects died on the spot and another died while being treated at the Quezon Medical Center, Chief Insp. Elmar Sillador, Quezon provincial police spokesman, said.

Three of the four were identified as John Modesto Salomes and Jerwin Ong, 32, both of Calamba City, Laguna; and Jeffrey Luna, 30, of Batangas City. Police have yet to identify the fourth suspect.

The shootout occurred along the Maharlika Highway in Purok Baybayin, Brgy. Ibabang Dupay, around 2:20 a.m.

A few hours earlier, Tuesday night, the Calabarzon regional police’s tactical operations center ordered a region-wide dragnet operation after it recieved information that armed men were seen roving on a red Toyota Innova, Sillador said.

Around 1:30 a.m., policemen in Candelaria reported a robbery hold-up incident involving that vehicle so all policemen in the province were alerted, he said.

Members of the Lucena City Police conducting dragnet operations at the Brgy. Gulang-gulang Junction eventually encountered the car, which rammed and went through the police signage heading towards Pagbilao.

This prompted members of the regional police’s Special Operations Group, Intelligence Division, Lucena City Police, and Army’s 1st Special Forces Battalion to give chase.

“Sensing that they were being followed, the group opened fire on the chasing operatives prompting the policemen to retaliate,” Sillador said.

After the firefight, three suspects were found dead. Policemen brought the fourth suspect to the hospital, but he expired while being treated, according to the provincial police spokesman.

The operatives found at the scene a caliber-.45 pistol, two caliber-.38 revolvers, and an Ingram submachine gun. (John Roson)

– end –