MANILA: The attack at the casino of Resorts World Manila, in which 38 died, including the gunman, was not a terrorist act, Armeen Gomez, chief of security at the complex, said in a news conference on Saturday.
“The gunman encountered guests even at elevators and he didn’t fire,” Gomez said shortly after he presented footage taken by security cameras showing the gunman from the time he entered the hotel to the time he entered Room 501, where he set himself on fire and shot himself, though there was no video of this last act.
Director Oscar Albayalde, chief of the National Capital Region Police Office, seconded Gomez.
If his motive was terrorism, the gunman would have shot people the moment he stepped into the casino-hotel complex.
As seen in the security footage, the foreign-looking gunman reloaded his M4 carbine with magazines several times as he set ablaze casino tables and slot machines and stole gambling plaques.
“With all his ammunition, he could’ve killed hundreds of people inside that establishment. But he didnt shoot anybody, he didn’t hurt anybody. He just burned the casino, which could be an added diversionary tactic for his escape,” Albayalde said.
None of those who died had gunshot wounds, except a security guard who panicked and accidentally shot himself, he said.
The video footage showed the lone attacker ride an elevator with two female guests. He got off on the second floor and went past the metal detector, which was only manned by a female security guard.
The man then burned gaming tables and slot machines before he forced his way into the storage room where the gaming chips and plaques were kept. He was able to bag P113 million (RM9.76mil) worth of gambling plaques.
The footage then showed casino security men and police officers chasing the gunman as he tried to hide in the basement. One of his pursuers managed to shoot the gunman, who was wounded near the mouth.
Then he went to the fifth floor through the emergency exit staircase and forcibly opened Room 501 of Maxims Hotel, which was connected to the Resorts World casino.
The man was seen going in and out of the room as he burned linen on the hallway. He then holed up in the room and killed himself.
Albayalde said the suspect could have shot himself in the mouth after setting himself on fire.
“So until we get any indications that this is part of a terror attack, we can’t possibly say that this is a terror attack,” he said. “What we base our findings on physical evidence and testimonial evidence is what we saw on the video.”
The 37 fatalities all died of suffocation due to smoke inhalation, while the gunman killed himself. At least 50 people were also injured. - Philippine Daily Inquirer/Asia News Network