CNN reports that a total of 37 people have been killed at the Resorts World Casino and Hotel in the Philippines after a lone gunman forced his way into the casino around midnight local time (Thursday ET), shooting TV screens with an assault rifle and setting gambling tables ablaze by pouring gasoline on them.
The news agency reports that Southern Police District Director Superintendent Tomas Apolinario said the victims did not appear to have sustained gunshot fire and are thought to have died from suffocation. Apolinario said, “Most of the victims were women who were found dead inside the bathroom.”
Authorities reportedly said earlier that 35 people had been found dead at Resorts World Manila in the casino area after a lone gunman fired shots and set fire to gaming tables early Friday morning. CNN Philippines was reportedly told by local police that two more bodies were found in the hotel, but whether they were employees or hotel guests was not mentioned. Search of the building was reportedly delayed due to thick smoke resulting from fires set by the suspect, but the bodies of the two deceased were later discovered by officers during clearing operations, according to Oscar Albayalde, the Director of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO).
CNN reports that Albayalde said all of the victims were found in the casino area of Resort World Manila. Reportedly, more than 20 of the people killed were resort guests and 13 of the victims were staff. Upwards of 70 people were injured. The gunman later killed himself.
Terrorism was reportedly ruled out by authorities as the motive for the attack, despite ongoing ISIS-affiliated militant activity on the southern Philippines island of Mindanao. CNN reports that presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella told reporters, “This particular situation in Manila is not related in any way to a terrorist attack.” Meanwhile, reporters were told by Manila police chief Albayalde that they think the suspect was likely a foreigner. “He looks Caucasian, he talks English, he’s big and he’s white, so he’s probably a foreigner,” he said.