Philippine Attacker Identified as Indebted Former Finance Employee

Felipe Villamor
170604-PH-attacker-620.jpg Metropolitan Manila Police Chief Oscar D. Albayalde (right) is joined by Teodora and Fernando Carlos, the parents of casino attacker Jessie Javier Carlos, during a press conference on Sunday, June 4, 2017.

Philippine police identified Sunday the suspect who killed 37 people and himself in Friday’s hotel casino attack in Manila as a former government employee who owed millions of pesos in gambling debts.

Metropolitan Manila Police Chief Oscar D. Albayalde named the gunman as former Department of Finance staff Jessie Javier Carlos, 42, a separated father of three. On Friday, Carlos stormed the Resorts World Manila hotel armed with an assault rifle and set fire to gaming tables – the victims died of smoke inhalation and suffocation.

The assault triggered fears of a terror attack in a country already on edge after Islamic State- (IS)-linked militants laid siege to Marawi city in the southern Philippines.

“Today, after relentless effort or our operatives to identify the lone gunman in the tragic incident at the Resorts World Manila,” Albayalde told a news conference. “After backtracking, we have finally established the identity of the perpetrator.”

Albayalde said Carlos was fired from the finance department for improperly declaring his personal finances. His ex-wife had earlier requested that he be barred from all gaming floors in Manila because “he was heavily indebted due to being hooked in casino gambling.”

Carlos owed at least 4 million pesos (about U.S. $82,000) and was said to be desperate, according to police.

Albayalde said Carlos once was considered a “high roller” meaning he would place bets at a minimum of about $1,000. “But he was previously ordered barred from casinos upon the request of family,” he said.

Carlos’ parents were with Albayalde when he confirmed his identity. They cried and apologized to the public and the victims’ families.

“On this note, we also reiterate our prior statements that this is not an act of terrorism, but this incident is confined to the act of one man alone as we have always said,” Albayalde said, saying the case is considered closed.

On Friday, Philippine officials challenged IS’s claim of responsibility through its Amaq news agency.

An investigation will continue to determine the culpability of the hotel management for allowing the gunman to enter, according to Alayalde.

“We shall spare no one of any lapses committed during the incident,” he said while appealing to the public to stop speculating that this was linked to acts of terrorism.


Security footage released by police showed Carlos getting out of a cab, riding up an elevator and putting on a mask. He forced his way into the second-floor casino, bypassing metal detectors and ignoring an unarmed security officer. Pulling out an M4 assault rifle, he triggered a panic stampede from the casino floor.

Carlos torched gambling tables and fired his gun into the air before making his way into a cashier’s box where he grabbed casino chips valued at about 113 million pesos ($2.3 million). Hotel staff said there were over 12,000 guests and employees at the casino complex at that time, considered a peak hour at the casino.

Armed security guards went after him, triggering a brief exchange of gunfire that left him wounded and limping. Later footage showed him with blood on his face resting in a stairwell.

He made his way up the hotel’s fifth floor, where he forced his way into room 510. He was seen setting hotel linen on fire before going back inside the room where he set himself on fire, according to police.

Marawi gun battles

The attack came more than a week after IS-linked Filipino militants backed by Malaysian, Indonesia and Middle East fighters engaged troops in a deadly gun battles in Marawi on the southern island of Mindanao.

The battles were touched off by efforts by security forces to arrest top Filipino militant Isnilon Hapilon, a leader of the Abu Sayyaf Group, who was spotted in the area. A huge rebel force that included members of the smaller Maute gang and several foreigners surprised the officers.

Military officials said they have recovered 90 percent of the besieged city of 200,000, which has been abandoned except for a few thousand people believed to be trapped in the city center. The gunmen have kidnapped a group of mostly Catholic civilians, led by a priest, who last week aired an appeal to the government to stop the fighting.

More than 120 gunmen, 38 soldiers and 20 civilians have been killed so far in the nearly two-week old violence. More than 1,200 civilians have been rescued and thousands of others escaped the city on their own.


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