The families of the dozens of people killed by terrorists in a Manila casino are now headed to funeral homes to see their loved ones for the last time.
Reports that an unidentified gunmanand was using gasoline to set gambling tables on fire started to come in on Thursday. At least 35 people were killed by the fires, police said, and the gunman, who had run off with more than $2 million in stolen casino chips, then broke into a room in an adjoining hotel and took his own life.
Authorities are calling it a robbery.
“Initial findings of police investigation of the Resorts World incident this morning, 2nd of June 2017 Thursday (Friday) show that there are no indications of terrorist activity,” said Secretary Ernesto Abella, Philippine presidential spokesperson. “All indications point to a criminal act by an apparently emotionally disturbed individual.”
Metropolitan Manila police chief Oscar Albayalde offered the following possible explanations, stating, “Either he lost in the casino and wanted to recoup his losses or he went totally nuts.”
According to the SITE Intelligence Group, a U.S. terrorism monitor, a Filipino with ties to ISIS claimed on social media that the group’s “lone wolf soldiers” were behind the attack, but police say that since the man didn’t shoot anyone, he was probably not a terrorist. They also saw no connection between the casino attack and the fact that ISIS militants have been terrorizing residents in the southern city of Marawi for the past two weeks.
Security footage has shown the gunman bypassing an inquisitive guard at the entrance before heading straight to the casino, where he filled his backpack with gambling chips, shot at TV screens with an assault rifle and poured gasoline onto gambling tables from a 2-liter bottle he carried before setting them on fire.
Albayalde recalled that everyone, including security staffers, ran from the chaotic scene. “The hotel security was rattled, when a female security saw him, she ran away instead of calling immediately for assistance. People scamper, including the security,” he said.
Described as “white, with a mustache,” the suspect reportedly spoke English. After leaving his trail of destruction in the casino, he took off for a room on the 5th floor of Maxims Hotel, laid down on the bed, covered himself with a blanket, poured gasoline all over himself and then set himself on fire. There was no identification on him, and police still don’t know who he was.
The backpack of gambling chips — worth more than $2 million –was found in a toilet.
More than 70 were injured in a stampede that resulted from hundreds of people trying to escape the smoke-filled casino. Witnesses heard gunshots and saw people on the second and third floors smashing through windows to escape.
Upon hearing about the attack, President Trump said, “It is really very sad as to what’s going on throughout the world with terror.” He noted that he was “closely monitoring the situation” and would provide updates.
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