Speed Reads


Police in Manila identify casino assailant as a desperately indebted gambling addict

When a gunman walked into a casino in Manila early Friday, fired some shots, and set gaming tables on fire, lots of people assumed it was a terrorist attack — including terrified people in the casino and President Trump. The Islamic State even claimed responsibility for the attack, in which at least 37 employees and casino patrons died from smoke inhalation while trying to hide from the attacker in a VIP room. On Sunday, Manila Police Chief Oscar Albayalde provided more evidence that the lone assailant, identified as Jessie Carlos, was a heavily indebted Filipino gambling addict with no ties to terrorism who botched a robbery.

Albayalde played security footage of Carlos getting out of a taxi, donning a ski mask, firing into the ceiling, setting tables on fire, and shooting open security doors to steal more than $2 million worth of gaming chips, before exchanging fire with security guards and escaping, slightly wounded, to the attached hotel, where police say he killed himself. The footage, and fact that Carlos was a married father of three who owed more than $80,000 in gambling debts, show "this is not an act of terrorism," Albayalde said. "This incident is confined to the act of one man alone, as we have always said."

Carlos' mother, Teodora, asked for forgiveness on Sunday. "We can't accept ourselves that my son became like this, he was a very kind son," she said. "The message of what happened to my son is people should not get hooked on gambling so their families won't get destroyed." On Saturday, President Rodrigo Duterte called Carlos "crazy," wondering aloud what the assailant was planning to do with $2 million in stolen poker chips. The attack "is not the work of ISIS," he added. "The work of the ISIS is more cruel and brutal."