Armed ex-guard surrenders after taking dozens hostage in Manila mall

One person was shot after the disgruntled ex-employee opened fire in a crowded Philippine shopping centre

Members of a police SWAT team prepare to enter a mall after a hostage situation was reported in suburban Manila on March 2, 2020. Heavily armed police were deployed at the mall in the Philippine capital Manila after reports that a disgruntled employee was holding a group of people hostage, an AFP journalist saw. / AFP / Ted ALJIBE

A security guard angered by his sacking surrendered on Monday after shooting one person and taking around 30 others hostage at a Manila mall, according to local media reports, sending terrified shoppers fleeing and prompting his superiors to apologise in a bid to end the standoff.

Philippine police surrounded a shopping mall in an upscale section of Manila after the recently dismissed security guard opened fire, an official said.

Mayor Francis Zamora of San Juan in the Philippine capital said the gunman, who was armed with a pistol, shot one person at the V-Mall. The victim was in stable condition at a nearby hospital.

Mr Zamora said a police negotiator talked to the gunman — a disgruntled former security guard at the shopping complex — inside a mall administration office.

“He felt bad because he was removed as a guard,” Mr Zamora told reporters, adding that the man tried but failed to convince fellow guards to join him. Aside from a pistol, the hostage taker was yelling that he had a grenade, but authorities could not immediately confirm that, Mr Zamora said.

“We have evacuated all the people in the shopping centre and we’re in a lockdown here in the entire mall,” he said.

An initial police report said the hostage taker, who was identified as Archie Paray, shot a mall official before rushing to the second floor of the complex, where he was holding dozens of people — mostly employees — in an office. The report said “more or less 50 staffs" were held hostage, but it did not provide other details.

Zamora said about 30 to 40 people were held.

The suspect complained of “unequal treatment,” the police report said.

He was apparently dismissed from work after abandoning his job in recent weeks without notifying management, Zamora said. He said the hostages were fine and added that authorities were trying to resolve the situation without further violence.

The gunman demanded to talk to fellow guards and the media, Mr Zamora said, but it was not clear if officials would agree to those conditions.

More than a dozen Swat commandos were earlier seen entering the mall, their assault rifles ready. Other policemen stood by outside, along with an ambulance.

The shopping complex, popular for its restaurants, shops, bars and a bazaar, lies near an upscale residential enclave, a golf club and the police and military headquarters in the bustling metropolis of more than 12 million people, where law and order have long been a concern.

Three years ago, a gunman stormed a mall-casino complex in Manila, shot TV monitors and set gambling tables on fire, killing 36 people who were mostly suffocated by the thick smoke. The gunman stole casino chips before he fled but was found dead in an apparent suicide in an adjacent hotel at the Resorts World Manila complex.

The attack, which caused guests and shoppers to flee to safety, was claimed by ISIS, but Philippine authorities rejected the claim, saying the attacker was not a Muslim militant but a heavily indebted gambler.