2 Killed As Canadian Opens Fire In Philippine Court

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Manila
A PNP officer removes tape as he unseals the muzzle of a service firearms of a member of the SWAT team during the ceremonial unsealing of firearms in Manila, Jan. 1.

A Canadian man opened fire in a court in the city of Cebu in the Philippines Tuesday morning, killing two people and wounding a prosecutor before the police shot him fatally, news agencies reported, citing officials.

John H. Pope, a 65-year-old resident of central Cebu city, faced charges of malicious mischief, based on a complaint filed by his neighbors.

Inside the court, Pope pulled out a gun and shot a lawyer and a physician, both of whom filed a complaint against him, according to the police. He then fired at a prosecutor in the hallway of the building before police fatally shot him, Cebu police chief Mariano Natuel told the Associated Press.

The physician had accused Pope, his neighbor, of wielding a weapon and threatening him and other residents in their apartment complex.

“We are investigating how the suspect managed to bring in the gun," regional police chief Marcelo Garbo told a local radio station.

According to local media reports in 2011, Pope was held by police on charges of illegal firearms possession.

A rising death toll from a recent series of shootings in the Southeast Asian nation has revived calls for strengthening gun laws.

On Jan. 6, 13 people were killed in a shootout between security forces and what the authorities described as a suspected criminal gang at Atimonan, some 90 miles east of Manila.

On New Year's Eve, two children were shot dead in separate incidents, the latter apparently killed by a stray bullet when a person fired a shot during a celebration.

On Jan. 4, Ronald Bae, a one-time candidate for a local government, shot and killed eight people in a rampage before police shot and killed him.

The Philippine Commission on Elections, or Comelec, has urged police and military personnel to observe the rules governing checkpoints and banning guns during the upcoming May elections.

However, some commentators say a periodic gun ban during election periods is not effective.

In an article published by the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Neal Cruz described the periodic gun ban as a routinely ignored "farce."

"Every election period, the Philippines becomes another Wild West with shootings and assassinations every so often, even when there is a 'total gun ban,'” he wrote, predicting that the country's Congress is unlikely to pass any new gun-control legislation.

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