Hoax YouTube video blamed for slow response to shooting
The hunt for the assailant who barged into Resorts World Manila, firing an automatic rifle and setting fires, was delayed when security guards and the police were led to believe by a hoax YouTube video, which circulated at the height of the June 2 attack, that they would be dealing with more than one gunman.
Lawmakers learned during Wednesday’s hearing on the attack that the “multiple gunmen theory” had derailed the response of the authorities.
It also wasted precious time that could have saved the life of 37 who died from inhaling smoke from fires started by the gunman, who was later identified as Jessie Javier Carlos.
The head of Resorts World security office, Armeen Gomez, told members of three House panels leading the Resorts World inquiry that initial reports indicated there were more than one gunman.
“Somebody showed me a video with two more personnel in uniform armed with a rifle in a casino,” Gomez said. “It took time for us to validate because we had to check if this was our area.”
Southern Police District director Tomas Apolinario Jr. corroborated Gomez’ statement.
“Sir, I concur with the statement of Mr. Gomez that the initial report was there were gunmen from Isis, and that the attack started on the second floor,” he said, using another acronym for the terrorist Islamic State (IS).
Apolinario said they would have more quickly neutralized the gunman had they known for sure that he was alone.
It was the second hearing called by the House committees on public order and safety, games and amusements and tourism to inquire into the incident that ended with the gunman killing himself.
Christopher Baviera, a Resorts World security officer manning the surveillance room at the time, said he reported to his superiors that he saw one assailant on the closed-circuit television monitors, but that ground teams were checking whether there were more.
“So all along, there was conflicting info. Some reports [said] there were two gunmen, others said there were three,” Gomez said.
Multiple gunshots thought to be coming from different directions reinforced the wrong notion.
A burning bag of ammunition left by the gunman on one of the gaming tables that he set on fire triggered explosions that sounded like numerous gunfire.
This also was cited as a reason many of the victims did not head for the fire exit because they believed the gunman was still around.
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