Philippines police on Sunday revealed that the Resorts World Manila attacker was 42-year-old father-of-three Jessie Javier Carlos, a Catholic man with a gambling addiction and no connection to terrorism.
“He was barred by Pagcor (the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation) from all casinos because of the request of next of kin. This could have probably triggered him. That’s why he was so mad at casinos,” police spokesman Oscar Albayalde told a news conference, as cited by AFP.
“As we always maintained, this was not an act of terrorism,” he added.
Carlos, a former employee of the Philippines Department of Finance, recently lost his job and was a heavy gambler, according to police and relatives, as reported by the New York Times.
Albayalde said that Carlos had lost his job for withholding financial information from his employers and had accrued $80,000 in debt.
He was banned from casinos in April by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) at his family’s request to try and curb his gambling addiction.
“My son was a good person, but changed after he started going to casinos,” Carlos’ mother, Teodora, told the press conference.
Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) claimed responsibility for the attack at Resorts World Manila but this has been debunked by investigators and by the man’s own family members.
Police were initially skeptical of the IS link as Carlos’ behaviour did not indicate he was attempting to inflict maximum casualties, given that he was armed with an M4 rifle but did not shoot at people who were fleeing the scene, instead firing warning shots into the air.
“I would call him a habitual gambler. He lost everything in his life and became crazy. He lost his mind. He vented his anger [through the incident],” President Duterte told reporters on Sunday, as cited by AFP.
The taxi driver who drove him to the casino also provided testimony to the police, which helped narrow the scope of their investigation.
Video footage of the attack was made public Saturday and showed Carlos starting fires in the casino and stealing over $2 million in gambling chips.
Almost all of the 37 people killed in the incident died from smoke inhalation as a result of the fire. Carlos took his own life via self-immolation, which delayed the police investigation into the incident.
Police were eventually able to confirm the man’s identity from a scar on his burned remains after family members advised them that he had previously undergone gall bladder surgery.