The Canadian man who killed two people in a courtroom in the Philippines on Tuesday before being gunned down by police likely worked at the Prince George Citizen three decades ago.
John Pope was facing charges of illegal possession of firearms when he was shot by police in Cebu City in the Southeast Asian country. He was described in local reports as being a journalist.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Foreign Affairs was unable to provide any personal details about Pope due to privacy concerns, but a man named John Pope was a Citizen staff reporter in the late 1970s and early 1980s. According to former Citizen employees, Pope was living in the Philippines for the last 10 to 15 years.
The Citizen also received a package from John Pope in the fall originating from the Philippines addressed to a former staff member.
Former colleagues at the Citizen had starkly different memories of Pope - some said he was a good friend and very loyal, while others said he was troubled and unhappy.
"It was black or white, right or wrong with him, there was no middle ground," photographer Brock Gable recalled. "You were either his friend or you didn't exist."
Former Citizen features editor Doug Martin remembered Pope as a big, physical man who would work out at the boxing club, but he also said Pope had a dark side.
"He was a very unhappy guy, a troubled guy," Martin said. "He was kind of a crazy man."
One night Martin said he got a phone call from Pope, who sounded agitated.
"He said, 'I'll come to your house, it's a matter of life or death,' " Martin recalled. "That didn't sound like a good idea to me, I didn't want him around my house."
Martin agreed to meet with Pope on the street and said the reporter had a wild look in his eyes.
"He's all upset and he said, 'I've got to kill Doug Weller, a photographer,' " Martin said. "I managed to talk him out of it."
Martin reported the incident to the managing editor at the time, but he doesn't recall any actual physical confrontations between Pope and any of his colleagues.
According to reports from the Philippines, Pope shot and killed a lawyer and physician in the court house and wounded a prosecutor before he was shot by police. The physician who was shot was the man who initially made the firearms complaint against Pope.
Police in the Philippines said Pope used a .357 revolver in the shooting spree but also had a .45 pistol in his bag.
Former Citizen reporter Bernice Trick remembered Pope as a good reporter who was always on top of his beat. Trick worked with Pope in the early 1980s at the Citizen and has fond memories of his going away party, known as a "mugging" for the silver mug that was often given as a gift.
The pair kept in touch sporadically over the years and Trick recalls receiving emails from Pope from the Philippines during the 1990s.
"I feel bad, it's something I would never have expected from him," she said.
In their email correspondence, Pope would often speak proudly of his two children he had with a common law partner in the Philippines.
Gable said he was also friendly with Pope during his time at the Citizen and said "[Pope] was a competent reporter and a nice man."
Other staff members from the era remember Pope being a bit weird, with one describing him as a bit of a gun nut who was teased by fellow reporters over his love of firearms. Trick said he was a bit odd, but not any more so than the other colourful personalities in the business.
"He wouldn't be someone you would fear," she said.
Martin said he and some other former colleagues felt differently.
"He seemed like a prime candidate to pull out a gun and shoot us all," Martin said. "We laughed about it. Maybe we shouldn't have."
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