Thirty six people were killed and more than 54 people were left injured after a masked gunman entered a casino at the Resorts World Manila entertainment complex in Philippines on Friday and fired shots and set gaming tables ablaze in what the officials believed was a botched robbery and was not linked to terrorism.
The suspect also killed himself and his body was found in a hotel room in the same complex, the police said. Manila police Chief Oscar Albayalde told reporters that police think it is likely that the suspect was a foreigner.
“He looks Caucasian, he talks English, he's big and he's white, so he's probably a foreigner,” Albayalde said.
“He burned himself inside the hotel room 510,” Philippines National Police Chief Ronald Dela Rosa told a media conference. “He lay down on the bed, covered himself in a thick blanket and apparently doused himself in gasoline.”
The discovery of the bodies was confirmed about noon on Friday by Albayalde. Another police official, Tomas Apolonio Jr., said the victims died of smoke inhalation in the casino area. Albayalde said the suspect shot a television set and set tables alight but did not shoot any person, which indicated that he did not have an intention to kill anyone and was not a terrorist.
“He could have inflicted maximum casualties, but he did not,” Albayalde said. He said the people who died were in the casino's main gaming area.
“What caused their deaths is the thick smoke,” he told reporters. “The room was carpeted and of course the tables, highly combustible.”
Among the victims 22 were guests at the casino and 13 were employees. Two employees and four guests are yet to be identified, the Manila Bulletin News reported.
The officials said there was no such link or evidence relating the attack to terrorism and to the fight between Islamic militants and the country’s troops in the south. Ernesto Abella, a spokesman for President Rodrigo Duterte told at a media conference: “All indications point to a criminal act by an apparently emotionally disturbed individual.”
“Although the perpetrator gave warning shots, there apparently was no indication that he wanted to do harm or shoot anyone,” he added.
The suspect was said to have been mentally unstable and entered the gambling rooms alone. He fired at a stock room containing gambling chips and filled a backpack with those. Albayalde said the gunman had been trying to steal 113 million pesos ($2.3 million) worth of gambling chips because he might have lost money in a game and wanted to compensate that. However, he left the backpack on the ground near the stock room before starting to fire shots and burning casino tables. After this the suspect locked himself in a hotel room in the complex and set fire to himself.
Most of the victims died due to suffocation in the chaos as both guests and employees tried to escape the choking smoke at the complex soon after the attack began shortly after midnight.
Dela Rosa ruled out the reports that the Islamic State group (ISIS) has claimed responsibility for the attack.
An ISIS-affiliated operative had claimed responsibility soon after the attack, however the police found no links to terror and said the motive could have just been robbery.