Resorts World gunman tried to steal casino chips, says 'Bato'

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 02 2017 04:23 AM | Updated as of Jun 02 2017 06:39 AM

MANILA (3rd UPDATE) - A gunman in the Resorts World Manila shooting incident early Friday tried to steal chips from the casino, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director-General Ronald dela Rosa said.

Dela Rosa, who went to the area after hearing word about the incident, said police recovered the suspect's bag filled with casino chips.

He said CCTV footage showed the "foreigner-looking" gunman breaking into the stockroom area and filling his bag with chips.

"Six-footer na foreigner-looking na tao, puti na may bigote," he told reporters.

Contrary to statements by eyewitnesses, Dela Rosa said there was only one gunman in the attack.

He said the gunman did not aim his assault rifle at people.

Dela Rosa belied claims that the attack was the handiwork of the Islamic State or ISIS terror group.

"Don't panic, this is not a cause for alarm. We cannot attribute this to terrorism," he said.

"We are looking into a robbery angle because he did not hurt any people and went straight to the casino chips storage room. He parked at the second floor and barged into the casino, shooting large TV screens and poured gasoline on a table setting it on fire."

He said the attack could be robbery-related. 

"The motive hindi pa natin established, whether this is in line with terrorism or nasiraan ng bait or robbery," he added. 

Dela Rosa said there were no reported fatalities in the incident, only injuries caused by a stampede. 

He said police are now looking for the suspect, who was last seen on the 5th floor of the building. 

"Kung hindi siya lumabas sa building, mahuhuli iyan, sa dami ng tropa nating nakapalibot huli iyan," he added. "As of now, the situation is almost closing to normal dahil almost all the rooms are already cleared."

The suspect may have escaped because smoke had obscured the CCTV cameras, he added.

A witness saw police entering a hotel near the complex. Videos posted earlier on social media showed people fleeing as several loud bangs were heard.

Medical officials said at least 25 people were hurt, some seriously, as they rushed to escape.

Jeri Ann Santiago, who works in the emergency room at the San Juan de Dios hospital close to Resorts World, said 13 people were being treated, but more were on the way.

Most of the patients were suffering from the effects of smoke inhalation, and some had injuries such as fractures, she said, adding that none had gunshot wounds.

Gil Yonco, 54, stood weeping on the street at around 5 a.m. His daughter had been inside Resorts World on the second floor and called her father for help because she was getting suffocated by smoke.

He tried calling back but there was no answer. "I am very worried as a parent, I need to find her," he said.

A casino worker from the third floor of the complex, named Julio, told DZMM he heard many gunshots and saw people running up the stairs from the second floor.

Ronald Romualdo, a maintenance worker at Resorts World said he saw a woman fall from an upper floor while trying to escape. "Several people were injured," he said.

'GUESTS ARE SAFE'

Resorts World Manila Chief Operating Officer Stephen Reilly told reporters that one gunman was still inside the resort-casino as of Friday morning.

"There is one believed suspect inside the building at this time," he said. 

Reilly said all of their guests are safe. He said he has not confirmed earlier reports of fatalities in the shooting. 

He added that they will have to assess if Resorts World Manila will reopen immediately Friday. - with a report from Reuters