Police identify Manila casino attacker as former finance department staff who's heavily indebted

The gunman who attacked a casino and hotel complex in Manila early on June 4 was identified as Jessie Carlos, a 42-year-old former staff of the Department of Finance.
The gunman who attacked a casino and hotel complex in Manila early on June 4 was identified as Jessie Carlos, a 42-year-old former staff of the Department of Finance.PHOTO: EPA

MANILA - Police have identified the gunman who attacked a casino and hotel complex in Manila early on Friday (June 4) morning as a 43-year-old former staff of the Department of Finance.

Jessie Carlos, a Filipino, was "heavily indebted due to being hooked in casino gambling", Chief Superintendent Oscar Albayalde disclosed in a statement he read at a news briefing on Sunday (June 4), supporting police theory that the attack was a robbery gone awry.

He said Carlos was positively identified by kin at 5.30am on Sunday (June 4).

Carlos owed at least 4 million pesos (S$111,897), and his gambling problem "became the cause of misunderstanding with his wife and parents", said Mr Albayalde. The gunman was banned in April from entering all casinos and had to sell his pickup truck, a Ford Ranger, because of his debts. 

He has a son and two daughters.

Carlos, a tax specialist, was fired as a staff at the One Stop Shop Tax Credit and Duty Drawback Centre of the finance department over questions about his assets and liabilities.

"On this note, we reiterate our prior statements that this is not an act of terrorism… This incident is confined to the act of one man alone, as we have always said. We have and will continue to base our pronouncements on facts and evidence properly gathered," said Mr Albayalde.

He added: "We will not allow people or any threat group to use this situation to advance their propaganda or personal causes, whether foreign or local."

 
 
 
 

President Rodrigo Duterte said late on Saturday (June 3) that he does not believe the gunman was a terrorist.

"That is not the work of ISIS. The work of ISIS is more cruel, brutal," said Mr Duterte, referring to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, which on Friday (June 2) claimed responsibility for the attack.

To disprove the terrorist angle, officials of Resort World Manila released CCTV footage on Saturday (June 3) to show just where Carlos was and what he did that day.

The footage showed that at 12.07am on Friday (June 2), he arrived at the casino on a taxi wearing a black jacket and carrying a big backpack. The taxi driver who brought him also told investigators the man was speaking fluently in Tagalog.

Carlos then went to the parking area and took a lift to the second floor, putting on a bonnet to cover his face. At the second floor, he sidestepped a body scanner and headed straight to the casino. A female guard ran after him. It was then that he pulled an M4 assault rifle out of his bag, triggering a stampede.

There were over 12,000 guests and employees at the complex at the time, according to Mr Armeen Gomez, Resorts World Manila's chief security officer.

Carlos then made his way to the casino floor, and set ablaze gaming tables, slot machines and a dining area. He walked across a bar, where he fired his gun in the air. Minutes later, he could be seen shooting at the doorknob of a room where casino chips were kept. He managed to get inside the room, but having found no cash, he stuffed his bag instead with 113 million pesos worth of casino chips.

He was making his way to the basement when he ran into a couple of hotel guards. There was an exchange of gunfire.

A later footage showed him removing his bonnet, with blood on his face, and lumbering through a stairwell towards the fifth floor of the hotel. There, he lit up bed sheets stashed inside a trolley, and spread them on the floor.

Carlos forced his way into Room 510, where hotel security and police found him already engulfed in flames, and with the tip of his rifle pointing towards his mouth.