RW findings discredit Islamic State claims
AUTHORITIES declared the Resorts World Manila case closed on Sunday after revealing the identity of the lone gunman who attacked the casino and hotel complex on Friday—an ex-government employee buried in gambling debt.
National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) chief Oscar Albayalde also put to rest claims the Islamic State (IS) was behind the attack and said the assailant, 42-year-old Jessie Javier Carlos, acted on his own.
President Rodrigo Duterte backed the police findings.
“That guy is a habitual gambler. He lost everything in his life. He went irrational, lost his mind. He did not kill anybody. He tried to steal [casino]chips, placed it in his bag, and he snapped,” Duterte told reporters at Subic free port.
In a news conference, Albayalde said investigators established the identity of Carlos, who used to work for the Department of Finance, after talking to the driver of the Toyota Avanza taxicab that took him to Resorts World Manila in Pasay City on Friday.
Police tracked down h is residence at 2 a.m. on Sunday, at Felix Huertas Street in Santa Cruz, Manila where he lived with his wife and three children.
Carlos’ wife knew upon seeing closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage broadcast in the news, but was afraid to contact the police, police said.
The parents, however, were shocked at the turn of events but voluntarily came to the authorities at 5 a.m. on Sunday (see related story on A1).
Probers also confirmed through an autopsy that Carlos was indeed the man who took his own life at Room 510 of Maxims Hotel by setting himself on fire and shooting his mouth with a gun. Carlos had a gall-bladder operation.
Albayalde brought along the wife, Angelita, and parents Fernando and Teodora to the news conference at Remington Hotel in the Resorts World complex across the airport.
To prove that Carlos acted alone, Albayalde produced the gasoline boy who sold two 2.5-liter bottles of fuel to the gunman.
The police general scoffed at IS’ claim on Friday that its “fighters” attacked the casino.
“We will not allow people or any threat group to use this situation to advance their propaganda or personal causes, whether foreign or local,” Albayalde said.
Thirty-seven people died in the fires, dozens more were injured in a stampede to escape, and Carlos’ charred remains were found five hours later, police had said.
CCTV video of the incident released on Saturday showed the gunman calmly and slowly walking through the casino and firing into the air most of the time, apparently as warning shots for people to leave.
At one point he fired at security guards when they confronted him, but missed. After they ran away, he calmly walked up some stairs.
The video also showed him breaking into a secure room where chips and money were being kept, apparently intent on stealing what he could.
Carlos set alight many gambling tables in what police said was probably an attempt to create a diversion so he could escape.
Buried in debt
Carlos was heavily indebted because he was hooked on casino gambling, which was also a cause of misunderstandings with his wife and parents.
“He has a bank account with an outstanding debt of P4 million, and several other non-bank related debt. He sold his Ford Ranger due to financial constraints,” Albayalde said.
On April 3, Carlos was banned from entering all casinos by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp., as requested by his family.
“So this could have probably trigged him. He was angry because he was barred from all casinos,” Albayalde said.
Aside from selling his Ford Ranger, Carlos also had to dispose of his property in Batangas province.
His gambling addiction affected his relationship with his wife and according to his parents, Carlos and his wife were not talking anymore even if they lived in the same house.
Albayalde told reporters the case was closed insofar as the identity and the motive of the suspect were concerned. He made it clear however that investigation is still ongoing on the possible lapses on the part of the casino management.
“Today, we hope to have brought closure and peace to the bereaved families. We mourn with you,” he said.
WITH AFP AND NELSON BADILLA