A Canadian pensioner facing various charges went on a shooting spree inside the Palace of Justice in Cebu City on Tuesday morning, killing his accuser and the latter’s lawyer, police said.
After the courtroom shooting, John Pope also shot a prosecutor and was gunned down by policemen, before he shot himself in the head, Cebu City Police director Senior Supt. Mariano Natu-el said.
The first shooting occurred around 8:30 a.m. inside the sala of Municipal Circuit Trial Court Branch 6 Judge Pamela Baring Uy, which is at the fourth floor of the Palace of Justice in the Provincial Capitol compound.
Pope’s accuser Dr. Rene Rafols and the latter’s lawyer, Atty. Juvian Achaz, died on the spot, Natu-el said.
The Canadian later went downstairs and shot Fiscal Ma. Theresa Casiño, who is now recuperating at the Chong Hua Hospital, he said.
Policemen who responded to the incident shot the 66-year-old Pope, who in turn shot himself with his homemade caliber-.357 revolver.
“Nabaril siya (Pope) ng pulis natin sa left thigh and left upper arm and then nagpakamatay siya by shooting himself in the head,” Natu-el said.
Pope was brought to the Cebu Provincial Hospital, where he expired around 10:50 a.m.
The policemen who responded were identified as PO1 Riviera and PO1 Talim, Central Visayas regional police spokesman Supt. Clifford Gairanod said, citing initial field reports.
An investigator at the Cebu City Police Station 2, which has jurisdiction over the area of the incident, said the court was hearing one of Pope’s “minor cases” when the first shooting occurred.
“Before the incident happened, we have plenty of minor cases against the Canadian national and he’s frustrated with the justice system that we have, he wants to apply the laws of his homeland,” the investigator, who handled some of Pope’s cases in the past, said by phone.
He said Pope was arrested at the Cebu Doctors Hospital on May 17, 2011 for carrying a caliber-.45 pistol, in an apparent attempt to “waylay” Rafols.
The cases between Rafols and Pope go way back when the Canadian was still staying at the Tuscany Condominiums in Brgy. Guadalupe, where Rafols served as homeowners’ association president, said the investigator, who declined to have his name published due to lack of authority to speak on the matter.
Pope had always complained about “noises” and someone “knocking” at the window of his condominium unit, according to the investigator.
He said Rafols was unable to address the complaints and doubted Pope, because the foreigner was occupying a unit at the eighth floor.
Rafols charged Pope with malicious mischief and grave threats when the Canadian destroyed his door, the investigator said.
Neighbors had also complained that Pope was unruly when drunk, and the foreigner was suspected of engaging in sexual acts with minors, he said.
“I had recommended him (Pope) for deportation because he is a very hostile person. Unfortunately it was not granted,” the investigator added.
Meanwhile, the investigator said Pope may have been able to bring a gun inside the court because guards at the Palace of Justice are “very lenient” to civilians.
“Anybody can enter without being frisked. You may register your name, but there is no frisking, only policemen and jail guards are being frisked by the guards, the civilians can enter without being subject to frisking. Is that an irony?” the investigator said. (John Roson)
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