Jessie Javier Carlos is the gunman identified as being responsible for the Resorts World Manila attack in the Philippines. The shooting was initially assumed by some to be a terrorist attack, but it turns out the suspect was a Philippines Department of Financing employee who had a gambling problem at the casino.
It was after midnight Manila time when initial reports came in about the Resorts World Manila attack. A journalist with ABS-CBN News reported that witnesses had spotted several men wearing black masks and black clothing storming the Resorts World Manila hotel and casino. People were jumping from third story windows to escape and the sound of gunfire could be heard on live videos being posted to social media. Some of the fleeing people were also shouting “ISIS” as they ran. Based upon reports such as these, the assumption was made by authorities that it could potentially be a planned terrorist attack.
The Philippines has faced a Muslim extremist insurgency in the country’s south for many years. The ISIS terrorist group also tried claiming responsibility for the shooting, but authorities believe evidence suggests otherwise. Philippine National Police Chief Ronald Dela Rosa said it was a robbery attempt, not a terrorist attack, since the gunman did not purposefully kill any innocent person, although he did exchange gunfire with a security guard after robbing the casino.
Police authorities eventually determined the Resorts World Manila attack was caused by a single gunman with no known ties to terrorism. Police now say that Jessie Carlos strode into the casino, started shooting gambling machines and large TV screens, and then lit the carpet on fire by pouring gasoline onto a table. Instead of going on a shooting spree, Carlos donned a black ski mask, pulled a M4 rifle out of his backpack, and went straight to the casino storage room in an attempt to rob the casino of millions of dollars worth of gaming chips. The CCTV video shows how the robbery attempt went down.
Unfortunately, while the motive of the gunman was to rob the casino, there were many Resorts World Manila victims because of the fire. People were breaking windows in order to escape the smoke, but 37 people did not make it out alive. Most of the victims died from smoke inhalation while others perished from suffocation. Out of the 22 casino guests and 13 employees, the majority of the victims were female. In the end, even the gunman himself died, since Carlos fled to the adjoining Maxims hotel and then committed suicide by setting fire to the room and then shooting himself.
Investigators discovered the identity of the Resorts World Manila gunman by tracing Carlos’ taxi ride back to a suburb. There, they found the man’s wife. Jessie Javier Carlos’ mother and father joined the Manila police at a June 3 press conference and requested that the public forgive their son’s actions.
“We’re asking for your apology,” said the mother, according to the Associated Press. “We can’t accept ourselves that my son became like this, he was a very kind son. He chose to end his life rather than… kill people. The message of what happened to my son is people should not get hooked on gambling so their families won’t get destroyed.”
— CNN Philippines (@cnnphilippines) June 4, 2017
Manila police chief Oscar Albayalde said Carlos was a married father of three and former government Department of Financing employee who owed more than $80,000 in gambling debt. Carlos had sold property, including a Ford Ranger, in order to pay off his debts. Reports say Carlos was fired from his Department of Financing job in 2014 “for grave misconduct and neglect of duty” because he failed to disclosed multiple items, including a house, vehicle, and other business interests. His family had grown so concerned that they asked the casinos to ban the man.
“This could have probably triggered him and that is why he was enraged with the casino,” Albayalde said, according to ABS-CBN.
The ISIS terrorist group does have a presence in the Philippines. Armed ISIS-affiliated groups have been known to be engaged in fighting in Marawi. But at this time the Philippines government has concluded the identified Resorts World Manila gunman was a lone wolf attack by Jessie Javier Carlos and he was motivated by robbery, not terrorism.
“We will not allow people or any threat group to use this situation to advance their propaganda or personal causes whether foreign or local. This is our duty to the Filipino people and to the international community,” Albayalde said.
— ST Foreign Desk (@STForeignDesk) June 4, 2017
[Featured Image by Basilio H. Sepe/Getty Images]