A gunman sparked panic at a hotel in the Philippines, ultimately leading to the death of 36 people – nearly all from suffocation. He later set himself on fire.
Photos of the gunman have now been released after the Friday attack and he is being described as a white, 6ft tall and foreign man. Photos of the gunman have now been released after the Friday attack.
The horrific incident began just after midnightat the Resorts World complex in the capital Manila.
The gunman ran into the hotel, wielding an automatic gun but did not shoot at anyone. He stole casino chips, shot at TV screens and then set casino tables on fire with gasoline. This led to mass panic with people suffering serious injuries in the ensuing stampede.
In the ensuing chaos, many people suffocated as guests and staff tried to flee choking smoke at the complex. Some jumped windows in an effort to escape while some escaped through emergency exits and to the basement.
A witness said he heard people screaming as they tried to get to safety and claimed to have seen one of the attackers with a scarf around his head, only revealing his eyes. A casino worker from the third floor, named Julio, told DZMM radio he heard many gunshots and saw people running up the stairs from the second floor. Ronald Romualdo, a maintenance worker, told the radio station he saw a woman fall from an upper floor while trying to escape. He said several people were injured in the process. Police, fire trucks and SWAT teams were called to the area, near Manila International Airport, after smoke began billowing from the upper floor of the building.
Resort management said security shot and wounded the attacker, who suffered severe blood loss. He hid in a hotel room then covered himself in petrol and set it alight. His body was found around dawn.
Officials of the resort said the dead included 13 employees and 22 guests. Authorities said around 70 people were injured in total and were taken to different hospitals. Management denied allegations of weak security inside the resort and Chief Operating Officer, Stephen Reilly, told reporters that the only security personnel permitted to carry guns are those outside the building. He defended the fire suppression system, saying it worked as it should with the sprinkler system activating, and added that the building had proper ventilation.
“The issue we actually had was with smoke, not with fire. Unfortunately, those victims suffered from smoke inhalation,” Reilly told reporters.
After the attack, ISIS claimed responsibility, but police refuted that and said the motive was robbery, not terrorism. National police chief Ronald dela Rosa went on the radio to tell the public calm the public and advise them not to panic.
“Don’t panic, this is not a cause for alarm. We cannot attribute this to terrorism. We are looking into a robbery angle because he did not hurt any people and went straight to the casino chips storage room. He parked at the second floor and barged into the casino, shooting large TV screens and poured gasoline on a table setting it on fire,” Rosa said.
Speaking of how the suspect died, Rosa said:
“He burned himself inside the hotel room 510. He lay down on the bed, covered himself in a thick blanket and apparently doused himself in gasoline.”
Investigations have begun and police said they were looking at a “person of interest” who is still alive and believed to be a Philippine national.
More photos below…