Early Friday morning in the Philippines, a man with a rifle barged into a casino in Manila and started shooting at slot machines and setting tables on fire. The English-speaking gunman escaped with about $226,000 worth of gambling chips and was later found dead from an apparently self-inflicted gunshot on the fifth floor of the Resorts World Manila casino, Metropolitan Manila police chief Oscar Albayalde said Friday morning.
Police have found 36 victims in the casino, all dead from apparent smoke inhalation and none of them with gunshot wounds. Officials say the motive was robbery; Albayalde speculated that the unidentified man either wanted to recoup gambling losses or went "totally nuts." The attack sparked panic in the area and several people were wounded in a stampede to leave the smoke-filled casino. "Most of the victims were women who were found dead inside the bathroom," Tomas Apolinario, a fire official, told CNN.
Soon after the attack, President Trump characterized it as a "terrorist attack." "We are closely monitoring the situation," Trump said on live TV Thursday afternoon, before announcing he will withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate accord. "But it is really very sad as to what's going on throughout the world with terror. Our thoughts and our prayers are with all of those affected." Soon after, the Philippine police chief and a Resorts World Manila executive said there was no sign of terrorism in the attack.
An unidentified senior White House official tells CNN that National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster had briefed Trump on the incident before he went into the Rose Garden, and that his briefing included "that media reports indicated ISIS had taken credit." An unidentified U.S. intelligence official tells NBC Nightly News that U.S. intelligence agencies had not called it a terrorist attack, and that Trump "was freelancing" with his characterization. "A laugh went up in the Situation Room" when Trump made his declaration, the official said.