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‘300 rounds’ of gunfire during Resorts World attack

Mara Cepeda
‘300 rounds’ of gunfire during Resorts World attack
Resorts World Manila president Kingson Sian says victims who were hiding – and eventually died of suffocation – likely thought there was more than one gunman

MANILA, Philippines – Lone gunman Jessie Carlos “instilled fear” and tricked the trapped Resorts World Manila victims into thinking there was more than one attacker, said the hotel-casino’s president Kingson Sian.

Sian presented new CCTV footage before lawmakers as 3 House committees – games and amusements, public order and safety, and tourism – resumed their probe into the deadly Resorts World Manila attack on Wednesday, June 14. (READ: 3 questions answered at House probe into Resorts World attack)

On June 2, Carlos breached the hotel-casino’s security, fired gunshots, and set casino tables on fire, leading to the deaths of 37 victims, including the wife of Pampanga 3rd District Representative Aurelio Gonzales Jr.

Police said Carlos later committed suicide by setting himself on fire in a hotel room. They identified him as a former government tax specialist deep in debt due to gambling.

During the hearing on Wednesday, Sian used the new CCTV footage to reiterate how Carlos made the victims believe he had accomplices by placing a bag of bullets on top of one of the burning casino tables.

The video showed how the bullets began exploding on their own due to the heat, with Sian estimating a total of 300 rounds of gunfire.  

“We highlighted this footage with the audio to dramatize the fear that was instilled among the people who were hiding,” said Sian. 

The Resorts World Manila president previously told lawmakers the victims died of suffocation because they chose to stay inside the two rooms where they were later found, afraid of being caught in the gunfire. 

Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas also inspected the crime scene during the first hearing, where he discovered several victims died in a room that was only two meters away from a fire escape

The 3 House committees agreed to issue a subpoena for David Chua to appear in the next hearing. He is the chairman of Travellers International Hotel Group Incorporated, which owns and operates Resorts World Manila.

Sian explained that Chua, a resident of Hong Kong, already left the Philippines on June 11 before receiving the House committees’ invitation to appear before lawmakers.

Delayed information on CCTV room

On Wednesday, Resorts World Manila security personnel admitted they vacated the two CCTV surveillance rooms inside the hotel-casino by 12:20 am, just 13 minutes after the attack began. (READ: TIMELINE: Resorts World Manila attack)

The hotel security then transferred to their back-up CCTV room at the adjacent Remington Hotel.

Resorts World Manila chief operating officer Stephen Reilly maintained “at no time were all CCTV rooms abandoned.”

“The CCTV rooms in Remington were manned 24/7,” said Reilly. 

But top police officials present said they were only informed about the existence of the back-up surveillance room hours after the attack. (READ: Resorts World Manila COO admits ‘lapses in security’ during attack)

“As we were checking room by room [inside Resorts World], we chanced upon a CCTV room. Walang tao (There was no one there),” said Pasay City police chief Senior Superintendent Dionisio Bartolome Jr. 

Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa added Resorts World security chief Armeen Gomez only informed him about the Remington CCTV room 45 minutes after he arrived on the scene at around 2:20 am.

“Later on, around 45 minutes [later], he offered me the Remington CCTV monitoring room. That’s why we were able to review [what happened] from start of the incident,” said Dela Rosa. – Rappler.com

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.