June 4 (UPI) — The Philippine National Police on Sunday identified the lone gunman in an attack on a casino near Manila that killed 37 as a gambling addict and not a terrorist.
Jessie Carlos, 42, was a former employee of the Philippines’ Department of Finance who was barred in April from entering casinos because of his gambling addiction, authorities said.
“As we always maintained, this was not an act of terrorism,” Philippine National Police Office Director Oscar Albayalde said at a news conference in Manila.
The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack Friday at Resorts World Manila in Pasay city, but President Rodrigo Duterte and Philippine police officials said the motive was robbery. The attacker didn’t fire at fleeing casino patrons and employees but instead he set casinos tables on fire with gasoline, Albayalde told reporters.
Most of the people killed were in a small room in the VIP section and died from smoke inhalation. More than 70 others were injured, including some from being trampled when 1,200 people fled the casino.
Carlos was wounded in gunfire with security guards. He ran into a hotel room on the fifth floor, set fire to the room and shot himself, the police said.
He wasn’t identified until two days later, after police interviewed the taxi driver who had picked him up near his home in the San Lazaro neighborhood of Manila and driven him to the casino.
Family members, after viewing the security video of the attack, confirmed Carlos’ identify.
“They had no idea whatsoever,” Albayalde said.
Family members attended the news conference Sunday.
“My son was a good person, but changed after he started going to casinos,” his mother, Teodora Carlos, said tearfully.
Carlos, who was fired from job at the Finance Ministry for not disclosing required financial information, owed more than $80,000 and was forced to sell his vehicle, Albayalde said. That included his house and lot, his car and business interests.
Carlos was still living in the same household as his family but was estranged from them.
“You are no longer in your right mind when you are addicted,” he said.
Carlos gambled but was not a regular at Resorts World Manila. His minimum bet was around $810, Albayalde said.
“He was barred by PAGCOR [Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation] from all casinos at the request of next of kin,” Albayalde said.
Besides robbery, Albalyalde said another motive might been revenge against the casinos.