Canadian shooter was frisked, bag inspected: NBI
MANILA, Philippines - Cebu Palace of Justice shooter John Pope was body-frisked and his bag inspected before he was allowed entrance into the Marcelo Fernan Hall of Justice, according to an Incident Report by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in Central Visayas.
In a 3-page faxed report, a copy of which was forwarded to Justice Secretary Leila De Lima, NBI-7's Bernard Dela Cruz reported that the bureau was requested by Cebu City Mayor Mike Rama to proceed to the scene of the crime "to conduct an investigation of [the] shooting incident."
"According to SG (security guard) Wilfredo Purola, subject John Pope (now deceased) was body-frisked and his bag was inspected," the report read.
Pope, a Canadian national, then went directly to Municipal Trial Court in Cities Branch 6 for the scheduled hearing on 2 malicious mischief cases filed against him by complainant Dr. Rene Rafols.
Rafols and his lawyer, Atty. Juvian Achas, were gunned down by Pope.
Public prosecutor Noel Cellona, who handles the cases for the state, was even greeted by Pope at the stairway near the court room, the report said.
"Pros. Cellona noticed nothing unusual... Inside the court room, he saw private prosecutor Achas seated at the first row, Dr. Rafols at the end row, while subject Pope was seated at the 3rd row.
"A few minutes before the court [started] its session at around 8:30am, more or less, Pros. Cellona heard two successive gun bursts. He saw Dr. Rafols and Atty. Achas lying dead on the ground," the report read.
After shooting the victims, Pope went out of the court room and proceeded to MTCC Branch 1 at the nearby building, some 50 meters away. He chanced upon public prosecutor Ma. Theresa Casino who handles another case against Pope, this time, grave threats, before the said court.
"Prosecutor Casino was point blank shot and was hit at her neck. She was immediately rushed to hospital and is now in critical condition," the report read.
The NBI report stated that Pope was later found dead at the stairway of the ground floor with a gun shot in the head.
"He allegedly shot himself according to PNP, SOCO-7. Recovered from him is a 6-shots 357-revolver with 4 bullets spent," the report read.
De Lima expressed condolences to the victims' kin.
"The Department of Justice (DOJ) and all its offices, specially the National Prosecution Service, extend our deepest sympathies to the families of the victims. We are closely following the condition of our prosecutor," she said, in a statement.
The justice chief said a careful investigation is taking place on the incident "to meet the ends of justice and to prevent similar incidents from happening again and again."
De Lima also stressed that "immediate action is needed to ensure the safety and security of personnel working in the front lines of the rule of law.'
The DOJ National Prosecution Service (NPS), through Prosecutor General Claro Arellano, also called on the Supreme Court (SC) to investigate the "clear lapse of security to prevent a repetition of this senseless rampage and ensure the safety of the public at all times."