A LINGERING neighborhood dispute was the root of the fatal shooting death of three persons and the wounding of another inside the Palace of Justice in Cebu City yesterday morning, sources and authorities said.
Dr. Rene Rafols and John Pope had been at odds since they were neighbors in barangay Guadalupe, Cebu City.
Based on court records and neighbor accounts, Pope used to own a condominium unit at Residenza Tuscania while Rafols lived in a townhouse in the same residential compound.
Rafols was homeowners’ association president when Pope approached him to complain about “something so crazy, so miniscule,” according to a neighbor.
But Pope reportedly got mad when Rafols didn’t act on his complaint. During an association meeting, Pope complained that someone would knock on his door but when he opened it, no one was there.
The source said Pope had told the association that he suspected Rafols was the one annoying him.
To appease the foreigner, the association posted a security guard outside his unit but Pope still complained that the knocking continued.
However, in letters and complaints Pope filed with the Ombudsman, the prosecutor and other governmnet offices, the Canadian said he was disgusted with the handling of the discovery in 2009 of fund anomalies and kickbacks by the property manager of the condominium.
He said a “plea bargain” arranged by Rafols with the manager to avoid prosecution was not acceptable.
Pope was later suspected of being behind incidents of rock throwing at Dr. Rafols’ townhouse.
Barangay captain Michael Gacasan of Guadalupe, said Rafols had filed several complaints against Pope.
“They met at least three times in the barangay hall but their dispute was never settled. So the barangay issued a certification to file action,” he said.
The complaints were filed before the two branches of the Metropolitan Trial Court in Cities.
Pope in turn claimed that he suffered a heart attack after being harassed by security guards of Tuscania “200 times”. He blamed them for being the ones who would ring his doorbell several times in the day and then disappear when he would look outside to check.
A friend of Rafols said the physician told her husband that Pope continued to harass him and had even pointed a gun at him inside his clinic./With an Inquir report