Police shot and killed a man with a gun when he opened fire Tuesday outside the home of a top Catholic Church official in the central Philippines, authorities said.
The suspect, identified as Jeffrey Cañedo, 41, had arrived at the archbishop’s residence in Cebu city, demanding a meeting with Archbishop Jose Palma, police said.
Cañedo was on a motorcycle and wearing a face mask and he appeared to be agitated, prompting church staff to call the police. The man apparently was angered by this move and he began shooting as police officers approached him, resulting in a brief exchange of gunfire that led to his death, officials said.
The bishop’s secretary, Maria Rowela Cerojano, had called the police after the “suspect was unclear of his intent,” said local police commander Chief Inspector Maria Theresa Macatangay.
“When the police came the suspect drew his firearm to the direction of responding policemen,” Macatangay said.
It was not clear what Cañete’s motive was, but the incident occurred at a time when relations between the Catholic Church and President Rodrigo Duterte remain frayed after the Philippine leader became angered by the church’s opposition to his administration’s drug war, which has left thousands of people dead since he took office in June 2016.
On Monday, Duterte met with the leader of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and agreed to a truce, with both sides pledging to refrain from verbally attacking one another.
Just a day later, Duterte broke that truce during a late afternoon speech in Pampanga province north of Manila.
“Do not include God in your platform of criticism because if you include God in the issue, son of a bitch, I will get back at that God,” he said. “I have the right to answer. There is separation of powers.”
He also took a swipe at foreign missionaries.
“Do not tell me you’re a tourist here. You come here under the cloak of religion and start to blabber your mouth and attack us,” he said.
Meanwhile, security around churches and residences of its top leaders has been stepped up in recent weeks after at least three Catholic priests were gunned down since December.
On Tuesday, Archbishop Palma called on the Catholic faithful to remain calm after the shooting outside his home.
“He appealed for calm and (for people) not to make speculations because investigations are ongoing,” Cebu Auxiliary Bishop Dennis Villarojo said over the Catholic-run Radio Veritas.
Church staff had described the man on the motorbike as appearing to be “troubled and not in his normal self,” Villarojo said.
Police were later dispatched to the man’s home. Relatives told police that the suspect had been “depressed” a few days before the incident, officials said.
Felipe Villamor in Manila and Richel V. Umel in Iligan City, Philippines, contributed to this report.