'Not terrorism': Resorts World Manila death toll rises to 38

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  • Gunshots and explosions were heard from the luxury hotel and casino in Pasay City past midnight Friday.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 2) — The death toll in the Resorts World Manila attack has risen to 38 including the gunman, according to National Capital Region Police Office Chief Oscar Albayalde Friday evening.

Albayalde told CNN Philippines that 37 bodies were found at the hotel plus the body of the assailant.

The Metro Manila police chief said that they have not identified the gunman yet as no I.D. was found with his body.

Albayalde also revealed that the police also had no "person of interest" yet as the car previously identified to belong to the gunman turned out to be the wrong vehicle.

However, he said investigators were certain that the attacker came into the hotel in a car as CCTV footage showed him coming from the second floor parking area. The lack of CCTV in the parking area, though, was making it hard to pinpoint which car was used by the attacker, according to the metro police chief.

He also called on the public not to panic and to remain calm, saying the incident was "not in any way" related to terrorism — but rather the act of a "deranged person."

Lone gunman

Earlier, authorities said 36 dead bodies were found in the casino area in Resorts World Manila, Pasay City, after a "foreign-looking" gunman fired shots and set fire to gambling tables in the early hours of Friday morning.

Southern Police District Director Tomas Apolinario said the 36 dead bodies were found in the second floor of the establishment, spread across the casino area, the hallways, and the bathroom. They died due to suffocation from smoke when the suspect burned carpets using the gasoline he brought with him, according to the scene of the crime operatives.

The lone gunman also died when he set himself on fire inside a hotel room, then shot himself in the head.

Philippine National Police Chief Director General Ronald Dela Rosa said the suspect was burned beyond recognition; lying beside his remains were a machine gun and a .380 calibre pistol.

"Nagsunog siya ng sarili niya sa hotel room 510. Humiga siya sa bed, kinoveran ang sarili sa makapal na kumot, nagbuhos ng gas sa kumot. Ayun, sunog siya," he said.

[Translation: He lit himself on fire in hotel room 510. He lay down in bed, covered himself in a thick blanket, doused himself in gasoline.]

Resorts World Chief Operating Officer Stephen Reilly said their security was able to shoot the attacker before he committed suicide, adding the blood loss slowed him down.

The management said 22 guests and 13 of its employees died. The management released the names of the victims. Four guests and two employees are still unidentified.



As for those wounded, Dela Rosa said 54 people sustained minor injuries, 18 were confined in four hospitals in the area. Officials said the victims were injured after breaking windows and jumping from the second floor to escape.

At San Juan De Dios Hospital, where some of the injured were brought for medical attention, the representatives of Resorts World Manila are settling the hospital bills of the victims.



Metro Manila police chief Director Oscar Albayalde insisted there was only one gunman.

"Based on CCTV footage we saw from start to end, iisa ang pumasok. Hanggang siya ay na-recover sa room," he said.

Apolinario did not comment on the suspect's identity.

Dela Rosa: Not terror attack

Dela Rosa said the incident was unlikely to be an act of terror; this despite international group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) reportedly claiming responsibility for the attack. SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors Jihadist threats, reported that ISIS claimed responsibility in the attack, quoting an "Islamic State Filipino operative."

"Why? Wala yung elemento ng violence, intimidation. Kung ISIS man siya, dapat namaril na siya. Kung talagang siya ay terrorista, magsusuot siya ng vest instead of sunugin sarili niya," he said.

[Translation: Why because there is no element of violence, intimidation. If he is a member of ISIS, he should have fired at people. If he is a terrorist, he should have worn a suicide vest instead of setting himself on fire.]

Dela Rosa said the ISIS claim is clearly part of a propaganda move.

Albayalde said the incident was not connected to the crisis in Marawi City.

"No threat of terrorism here in Metro Manila," he said.


Dela Rosa said the suspect was "tuliro" or deranged and may have been in need of money.

Apolinario said the motive of the gunman was robbery, but Albayalde said there is a possibility the incident is not a case of robbery because the gunman will not be able to exchange the P113 million-worth of casino chips he stole to cash.

Dela Rosa clarified that they have yet to conduct a full investigation on the incident.

Martial law in Luzon?

The PNP Chief said the government is not considering declaring martial law in Luzon, for now.

"Martial law? Hindi pa natin ma-connect. I-rule out natin as of now," he said.

President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao on May 23 following the crisis in Marawi City as government troops and fighters of the Maute terror group clash.

Resorts World: No lapse in security

The Resorts World Manila management said there was no lapse in the security inside the establishment, following the statement of police that the hotel guard fled when they saw the assailant with the rifle.

Reilly said the guard did not engage to avoid escalating the situation.

"Security inside the premises do not carry firearms, only outside of the premises. They did not engage because it would seem that it would escalate the situation. Unfortunately, the situation did escalate further, moving toward the gaming areas," he said.

He added the sprinkler system was activated when the gunman set the furniture on fire.

"Our fire safety equipment worked as it should do. Our sprinkler system activated. The issue we actually had was with smoke, not with fire. Unfortunately, those victims suffered from smoke inhalation. There is proper ventilation in the property," Reilly said.

How the incident unfolded

The police detailed what transpired in the incident that killed 37 people.

Past midnight Friday, the masked attacker entered the establishment through the second floor parking lot. The guard saw the assailant with a M4 rifle or baby armalite on his shoulders and apprehended him. The suspect fled, the Metro Manila police chief said.

He went straight to the gambling area.

A fire broke out after the attacker poured gasoline on casino tables and lit them up. He also stuffed a backpack with stolen casino chips worth P113 million. Police recovered the backpack inside the restroom with the chips still inside.

He also said the gunman opened fire on an LED television inside the casino, as well as the doors of the chips storage area. He did not shoot at people.

During the hot pursuit with the police, the suspect diverted their attention by dousing the carpets with gasoline and setting it on fire, not making him visible in the CCTV footage.

He then went to room 510, lit himself on fire, then shot himself on the head.

Dela Rosa reminded establishments to call the police's attention immediately during times like this, and advised people not to panic.

"Karamihan ng mga insidenteng nangyari na ganoon, hindi kaagad pinapaalam sa labas, they are trying to contain it within themselves, yung problema, hindi kaagad nirereport sa pulis," the PNP Chief said. "Once nakakita kayo ng gunman, o basta, kahit sinong aggressor, attacker, gunman, pag pumasok diyan, the first thing to do, call the police right away."

"Mananalo ang terrorista kapag kayo ay matakot. (If we get scared, the terrorists win.) They gain their objective," he added.

CNN Philippines' Rex Remitio, JC Gotinga, Makoi Popioco, Camille Abadicio, Lara Tan, and Yvette Morales contributed to this report.