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Alleged Philippine courthouse shooter once worked at B.C. newspaper

An undated photogragh of Canadian national John Pope.

Reuters/Cebu court

John Pope struck his colleagues at a northern British Columbia newspaper as a paranoid guy who saw enemies in the shadows.

One day in the late 1970s or early 1980s, he called Doug Martin at home and demanded to come by to discuss a "matter of life or death," the former editor at the Prince George Citizen recalled.

When they met on the street, Mr. Pope had "a strange look in his eye" and said he had to kill a kindly photographer at the paper because he was spying on him. Mr. Martin managed to talk him out of the plan, but it left him unsettled.

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"He just seemed to have an enemies list. He seemed to feel that he was being persecuted. He really had a strong sense that he was wronged by people, you know? He just seemed to be a troubled guy," Mr. Martin said.

After years of seeing himself as a victim, the former journalist went on a shooting rampage in a courtroom in the Philippines on Tuesday, killing his neighbour and his lawyer, and wounding a prosecutor, police allege. An autopsy is being conducted to determine whether Mr. Pope shot himself or was killed by police, according to a local report.

The shootings seemed to be the culmination of a long-simmering dispute between Mr. Pope and Reynold Rene Rafols, a pediatric surgeon who was president of the residents' association of their condominium complex in Cebu City.

Mr. Pope, who moved to the Philippines about 15 years ago, had faced charges of illegal possession of firearms, malicious mischief and grave threats.

Half a world away, his former colleagues are following news of the shooting and say they are not surprised at his apparent role in the tragedy.

"People felt uneasy about him, that he was somebody who might be prone to snap," said Mike Trickey, a former reporter and editor at the Prince George Citizen who now works for the federal government.

Mr. Pope, 66, moved to Canada in 1970 after deserting the U.S. Army and renouncing his U.S. citizenship to protest against the Vietnam War. He apparently attended Carleton University before working for the Prince George Citizen from about 1976 to the early 1980s. He also lived in Manitoba, where he worked for the province's Progressive Conservatives briefly in the 1990s.

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