Dozens of people were held hostage on Monday after a recently fired security guard opened fire at an upscale mall in San Juan City, Philippines. The gunman shot one person. Mayor Francis Zamora of San Juan said that victim is now in stable condition at the hospital.
Mayor Zamora said that a police negotiator tried to calm the gunman, a former security guard. The security guard had recently been removed from his position and wasn’t happy about it. The guard reportedly complained of “unequal treatment,” according to the police report.
“He felt bad because he was removed as a guard,” said Mayor Zamora.
The guard had tried to encourage other guards to join him, but they refused. He also yelled out that he had a grenade, but authorities were unable to confirm if that was true.
“We have evacuated all the people in the shopping center and we’re in lockdown here in the entire mall,” said Zamora.
The gunman has been identified as Archie Paray, according to an initial police report. Before rushing to the second floor of the mall where he took dozens of people hostage, he shot a mall official who was in his way.
Most of the people he held hostage were mall employees. The report says “more or less 50 staffs” were trapped.
Zamora said about 30-40 people were being held and said the estimate is based on the size of the administrative office they’re being held hostage in.
The Mayor also said that the gunman demanded to speak to fellow guards and the media. It isn’t clear if officials were willing to agree to those terms. Police waited outside of the mall with an ambulance ready. More than a dozen SWAT commandos were seen entering the mall earlier that day.
The popular shopping complex is known for having a bazaar, along with other shops, restaurants, and bars. It is located near an upscale residential enclave. The mall offers the usual fare of cellphone accessory kiosks and bubbly sales reps boasting of the cheapest phone plans, but there is also a golf club and police and military headquarters located nearby. It stands near a metropolis of more than 12 million people.
Law and order have long been a concern for the area. Mayor Zamora said, “We will do our very best to settle this issue peacefully. We will exert all effort to ensure no one gets hurt in this situation.”