Philippine rampage suspect charged

AP, MANILA

Mon, Jan 07, 2013 - Page 5

A house caretaker who reloaded the pistol of a man who went on a shooting rampage near Manila that left nine people dead is facing multiple murder charges, officials said on Saturday.

John Paul Lopez, who worked for the gunman, Ronald Bae, surrendered to authorities late on Friday, hours after the rampage, which left eight victims and the gunman dead, Cavite Provincial Deputy Police Chief Dionicio Borromeo said.

Eleven people were wounded in the incident in Cavite Province’s Kawit Township, about 16km south of Manila.

Borromeo said Lopez, 27, explained that Bae, 41, had threatened to kill him if he did not reload bullets into the magazines of a .45-caliber pistol used in the killing spree. However, Borromeo said Lopez never tried to stop Bae or talk him out of the rampage, whose victims included a pregnant woman and her young daughter, and a seven-year-old girl.

“We will file a case against him of multiple murder and multiple frustrated murder,” Borromeo said.

He also said the that Kawit police chief and his deputy have been relieved of their posts by senior police officials while they are being investigated for allegedly not responding to reports that Bae had fired his weapon behind his house four days earlier.

Borromeo said records and officers’ testimonies indicated they received no such reports.

It was unclear what triggered the rampage, but Bae had a “marital problem” with his wife, whom he left in northern Pampanga Province and returned to his old home in Kawit for the New Year, Cavite Provincial Governor Jonvic Remulla said.

Bae’s wife, Maria Elena, 36, said her husband left their house in Pampanga on Tuesday after a violent confrontation on New Year’s Eve when her husband accused her of having an affair, which she denied.

“He was red in the face. It seemed like he was not himself anymore,” she said, adding that he was on drugs.

“I am sorry for what my husband has done,” she told reporters at a funeral parlor in Kawit with her husband’s remains.

Addressing families of the victims, she said: “Please don’t blame me.”

Bae, who was killed in a shootout with police, had been on a “drug and alcohol binge” with his friends since Wednesday, drinking and taking methamphetamine, Remulla said.

Bae also killed a seven-year old girl and wounded her two-year-old sister and four-year-old brother, who is his godson. The three children tried to shield themselves behind seat cushions, their uncle Edwin Lacorte said.

The two children are in serious condition in a hospital.