Officers declare Pope a suicide-A A +A
Monday, January 28, 2013
EVEN without an autopsy report, two senior police officials believe that based on the evidence gathered, John Pope shot himself when he was cornered in a stairwell of the Chief Justice Fernan Hall of Justice.
“We already have a complete investigation even without the autopsy,” said Supt. Orlando Ualat of the Police Regional Office (PRO) 7, in a phone interview.
Ualat, head of Task Force Pope, said the next step is to trace where Pope got his firearms, which were unlicensed, and to identify any accomplice.
The task force’s initial report, including witnesses’ affidavits, will be submitted to PRO 7 Director Marcelo Garbo Jr. on Tuesday, exactly a week after the Canadian retired journalist shot three persons in court.
Pope, who was facing several cases and a deportation order, shot and killed Dr. Reynold Rafols and Atty. Jubian Achas, and wounded Assistant Prosecutor Maria Theresa Casiño.
Ualat said they are still waiting for the result of the forensic examination of a cell phone recovered from Pope.
Pope’s body was cremated late Friday night upon the request of his family, who also declined an autopsy and had the ashes released to a friend of Pope’s in Negros Occidental.
Interviewed separately, a medico-legal officer agreed that there was enough proof to believe Pope committed suicide.
Dr. Nestor Sator, chief of the PNP Regional Crime Laboratory Office 7, said the Scene of the Crime Operatives (Soco) found gunpowder burns on the man’s right temple and a hair strand stuck in the barrel his .357 revolver.
“These are the bases that lead us to think it was a case of suicidal shooting,” he said in a phone interview.
He conducted the post-mortem examination of Pope’s body last Friday afternoon. A post-mortem examination is an inspection of a body, in contrast to an autopsy, which includes the internal organs.
He said he found a wound on the right temple of Pope’s head and that the slug exited above the left ear. He also documented gunshot wounds in the left forearm and left thigh.
The wound on Pope’s right temple, said Sator, indicated contact fire, which meant the gun’s muzzle was held against the skin.
In the meantime, the Cebu City Government will extend some help to the families of Dr. Rafols and Atty. Achas, said Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama.
Since they were residents of the city, the families of Rafols and Achas will qualify for a burial assistance program that grants up to P18,000 per family.
Meanwhile, Councilor Edgardo Labella has filed a resolution for the City Council to commend PO2 Celso Rivera Jr. of the Cebu City Anti-Drug Special Operations Task Force and PO1 Uriel Hagubit of the Regional Safety Batallion.
These are the officers who immobilized Pope during last Tuesday’s incident, after he opened fire at the two men and the prosecutor.
“Their fast and effective reaction to the shooting rampage prevented further grievous
injury or death to innocent parties,” said Labella.
The councilor’s resolution is expected to be taken up by the legislative body in their regular session on Wednesday.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 28, 2013.