An unidentified man on a motorcycle shot Tabanao five times outside of his parked car at around 11:45 p.m. in Kamputhaw village in Cebu City, according to news reports. A security guard who witnessed the attack told reporters that the gunman was wearing a full-face helmet and fled the crime scene after the shooting, the reports said. Police recovered eight empty shells from a handgun at the crime scene, according to the reports.
An autopsy found that Tabanao had been hit in the heart, lungs, and spine. He also had gunshot wounds in his back and right armpit.
A Special Investigation Task Group Tabanao was launched two days after the killing, according to news reports. The head of the group, Police Superintendent Reycel Carmelo Dayon, told local media that Tabanao's death was probably drug-related. He said police were investigating text messages that Tabanao had received on three of his cellphones.
Tabanao had frequently reported on the illegal drug trade on the station's "Police Line Up" and "Drug Watch" programs at dyRC Radyo Calungsod. He also served as a spokesman for the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, and often met with informants on drug-related cases, according to news reports, though he was not deeply involved in making arrests.
Robbery did not appear to be a motive. Police found about 50,000 pesos (about US$1,150) in Tabanao's possession when they arrived. On October 2, police announced they had identified a suspect, a man they said was a hit man for a drug syndicate. The police did not name the suspect and have made no arrests.