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Three dead, one wounded in courthouse shooting

Posted Jan 22, 2013 11:27 AM CDT
By Martha Neil

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A retired Canadian journalist shot and killed the pediatric surgeon who had pursued a malicious mischief case against him and the doctor's lawyer on Tuesday before dying himself in a courthouse in the Philippines, authorities said.

There are conflicting accounts about whether the shooting suspect, John Pope, 63, was killed by police or committed suicide by shooting himself to death, reports CBC News. Before dying, police said, Pope also reportedly shot and seriously wounded an assistant prosecutor in a hallway of the courthouse, which is located in the city of Cebu.

Pope had previously been charged with illegal possession of firearms. The slain plaintiff, Dr. Reynold Rafols, was his neighbor, and had accused him of brandishing a weapon and threatening Rafols and others in their upscale condominium complex. Rafols was represented by attorney Giovanni Achas, who was also shot to death. The wounded prosecutor is not identified.

Pope reportedly used a .357 revolver to kill his litigation opponents and shoot the prosecutor and was found to have a .45 caliber pistol in his bag.

The incident is the latest in a series of high-profile shootings that have prompted calls for increased gun control, reports the New York Times (reg. req.). A letter today in the Philippine Daily Inquirer that was apparently written by an attorney says "a breakdown of law and order across the country" has created an atmosphere in which multiple lawyers and judges have been killed "with impunity."

A recent Globe and Mail story provides additional details and says a police report states that Pope shot himself in the head with the same gun used in the other courthouse shootings.

Pope reportedly was frisked when he entered the courthouse. There is speculation that he may have smuggled a weapon into the building in a folded newspaper.

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