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Priest shot dead

By MARTIN SADONGDONG

A priest who just presided a Holy Mass was killed in cold blood by still unidentified gunman in Gattaran, Cagayan yesterday morning.

An initial report submitted to Senior Supt. Warren Tolito, chief of the Cagayan Police Provincial Office (PPO), identified the victim as Fr. Mark Anthony Ventura, of Barangay Naruangan, Tuao, Cagayan.

According to police, Ventura was blessing the attendees, most of them children, and talking to the choir members after the 8 a.m. Mass at the gymnasium of Barangay Piña Weste, Gattaran town when one of the suspects approached him from behind and shot him twice.

Police said no one could identify the gunman as he was wearing a helmet.

After the incident, the Mass attendees went in panic mode as they search for cover while the gunman immediately went outside of the gymnasium, police said.

A witness said the gunman boarded a motorcycle driven by his cohort and parked just outside the gymnasium. The two suspects then sped off toward Baggao town, the witness added.

Ventura was declared dead on the spot by responding policemen with two gunshot wounds in the body, police said.

According to a police report, Ventura is the current parish priest of San Isidro Labrador Mission Station based in Barangay Mabono, Gattaran. He also served as a rector at the Saint Thomas Aquinas Major Seminary in the Lyceum of Aparri, which broke the news of Ventura’s death through the photos it released.

Police said no other attendee was hurt in the shooting incident.

Meanwhile, Archbishop Sergio Lasam Utleg, the Archdiocese of Tuguegarao, led a prayer offering at the gymnasium of Barangay Piña Weste at noon after the gruesome killing of Ventura.

Police have yet to determine the motive behind the incident but they have conducted follow-up investigation.

Efforts are being made to identify and arrest the suspects, police said.

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