Boy in Philippines shoots friend, self in mall

September 21, 2011 - 7:15 AM

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — A 13-year-old boy who shot his 16-year-old friend inside a busy Philippine mall then turned the weapon on himself died Wednesday and left the other boy brain dead, raising questions about gun control in a country awash in firearms.

Authorities were investigating how the 13-year-old obtained the .22-caliber pistol and smuggled it into the mall in Pampanga province's Mexico township, area police chief Wilson Santos said. He said the shooting Tuesday was a crime of passion and that the boys were in a romantic relationship after meeting through Facebook in May.

The young age of the victims has stunned a nation accustomed to violent crime — U.N. figures show that the Philippines ranked 10th worldwide in 2005 for homicides involving guns.

Santos said hospital authorities informed him that the younger boy died Wednesday afternoon, more than 24 hours after the shooting.

The older boy was brain dead and being kept alive by ventilators and medicine at a private hospital, Dr. Alfonso Danac said. His parents were still deciding whether to remove him from life support.

The 13-year-old, apparently in a fit of jealously, left a suicide note that he was "willing to die together with" his friend, Santos said.

The shooting was the second in about a week inside one of the country's biggest mall chains, SM malls, where guards are posted at entrances and bomb-sniffing dogs patrol the premises to deter crime and terrorist threats.

An estranged wife fatally shot her husband Sept. 14 and killed a security guard who tried to stop her from hurting herself in the parking area of a mall in a Manila suburb. She is facing murder charges.

After the latest attack, Rep. Mitos Magsaysay called for stricter enforcement of gun control laws, and urged parents, schools and communities to interact more with a generation of Filipino children weaned on cell phones and computers.

"What's alarming is that the gun was in the possession of a 13-year-old," Magsaysay said.

She said the gun owner, who has not yet been identified by police, would be criminally liable for allowing the boy to get hold of the weapon.

Unregistered guns account for nearly half the 2.3 million firearms in the country, fueling crime, election violence, terrorism and Muslim and communist insurgencies. About 98 percent of gun-related crimes from 2004 to 2008 were committed with unregistered firearms, police said last year.