An armed man who killed 37 people when he set fire to a casino in the Philippine capital was a father-of-three from Manila motivated by heavy gambling debts and not terrorism, authorities said Sunday.
The identification of the attacker as Jessie Javier Carlos, a Catholic, proves that claims of responsibility by the Islamic State group for Friday’s attack were false, President Rodrigo Duterte and police said.
“I would call him a habitual gambler. He lost everything in his life and became crazy. He lost his mind. He vented his anger [through the incident],” Duterte told reporters on Sunday.
“It’s not terrorism.”
Manila police chief Oscar Albayalde said Carlos, 43, had three children and had been banned from all casinos in April by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) following a request from his family because of his gambling addiction.
“He is heavily indebted due to being hooked to casino gambling. This became the cause of misunderstanding with his wife and parents,” Albayalde said as he sat alongside Carlos’s parents and wife at a press conference announcing the gunman’s identity.
“He was barred by Pagcor from all casinos because of the request of next of kin. This could have probably triggered him. That’s why he was so mad at casinos.”
Carlos walked into the Resorts World casino and hotel complex in Manila on Friday with an M4 automatic rifle and a bottle of petrol, before setting alight a number of different rooms in the complex, according to police accounts.
Thirty-seven people died in the fires, dozens more were injured in a stampede to escape, and Carlos was found dead about five hours later in a hotel room after committing suicide by setting fire to himself, police had said.
Security film 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. – AFP
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