MANILA, Philippines – With a backpack in tow and using the hood of his sweatshirt to cover his head, a man casually walked into Resorts World Manila in Pasay City, and started a series of events that would lead to the death of 38, including himself.
In the early hours of June 2, the man – whom police have yet to identify – scared customers and employees of the popular entertainment complex after he brought out an M4 assault rifle.
In the chaos, some of those fleeing began screaming “ISIS,” referring to the international terrorist group. Within minutes, police and other security personnel arrived at the complex.
Hours later, national police chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa announced that the gunman was dead and that there were no casualties. (READ: TIMELINE: Resorts World Manila attack)
Later that morning, however, news came of the high death toll – 37 employees and guests dead not because of the gunman, but because of suffocation due to the fires he had set inside the casino.
Police have yet to release the identity of the gunman, but they’ve listed down a few things they know about him, thanks to testimonies from the taxi driver who dropped him off, and closed circuit television camera (CCTV) footage from the casino.
Who was he?
The suspect was described as someone who was tall and had fair skin. “As you can see, mestizo,” said Metro Manila police chief Director Oscar Albayalde in a press briefing on Saturday, June 3.
According to testimony from the taxi driver who dropped him off, the man spoke fluent Filipino. Initial reports indicated the man was speaking English while inside the casino, leading police to initially describe him as “foreign-looking.”
The suspect hailed a cab from San Lazaro in Manila. On his way to Resorts World from San Lazaro, the suspect apparently asked the taxi driver to switch the radio to a news station instead of music.
Police are still awaiting test results that may give them more clues about the gunman – the autopsy, blood tests from samples retrieved in the casino, dental records, and a DNA test.
How did he get in?
The man got off at the drop-off area close to the parking entrance at around 12:07 am on June 2. From there, he somehow entered the premises through the parking lot and used an elevator with two other women.
In a statement, Resorts World security noted that he was “in plain clothes, with a back pack, and with no visible firearms.” Turns out, he had an M4 rifle inside his bag.
The man alighted at the second floor and moved to the parking area where he wore a mask, his ammunition vest, and took out his rifle.
From the parking area, the man entered the mall proper at around 12:11 am. He walked past the metal detector, prompting mall security to chase after him. He then took out the assault weapon, causing the security guard and other people nearby to run away in panic.
What was inside his bag?
He had with him several bottles of flammable liquid (either gasoline or kerosene), a M4 assault rifle, and a .38 caliber gun. The M4 rifle’s serial number was defaced while the .38 gun’s serial number was traced back to a 1998 registration.
He had with him around 3 magazines of ammunition, totaling around 90 rounds.
What did he do inside?
The man walked past customers and employees of the mall and went to the casino area. Resorts World began evacuating its customers and staff while its security team tracked the suspect and called the police.
He entered Prosperity Court, an area which houses gambling tables, slot machines, and restaurants. He fired his gun without hitting anybody and started pouring flammable liquid onto 3 gambling tables.
He began shooting at the LCD at Bar 180 and also set the area on fire. The man also torched several slot machines.
Why did he do it?
Police believe robbery was the motive because after setting parts of the casino on fire, the man proceeded to the area behind the cashier. He opened several doors by firing onto them using his rifle, at around 12:18 am.
He was able to enter the chip bank room, where he lingered for a while. Police thought he was searching for cash. Instead, he stole high-value chips amounting to P113.1 million.
How did he die?
The gunman went down to the basement area using the stairs, where Resorts World security personnel were able to track him down. He exchanged gunfire with security personnel and got wounded in the process.
“Thereafter, the gunman appeared to be weakened causing him to drop and abandon the bag of plaques,” Resorts World said.
He went back up as police and Resorts World security personnel again began trying to track him down.
The gunman eventually found his way to the hotel on the 5th floor. From there, he entered a room, exited it again and set aflame linen. He entered the room, which police believe he set on fire too. He then shot himself in the mouth.
Albayalde said they showed the CCTV footage to media, partly to dispel persistent rumors about the gunman. They also showed it to prove that it was not an act of terror. (READ: Officials contradict each other on Resorts World Manila attack)
ISIS, through its propaganda arm, claimed responsibility for the incident. But police have dismissed this, pointing out that ISIS has a habit of claiming all sorts of incidents around the world. (READ: Terrorism and ISIS at Resorts World Attack?)