A disgruntled former security guard shot one person and took more than 30 others hostage in a day-long siege at a shopping mall near the Philippines capital Manila before releasing them after an apology from his bosses.
Archie Paray shot and wounded a security guard after entering Virra Mall, in the Greenhills shopping complex, at around 10 a.m. Monday local time (9 p.m. Sunday ET), according to San Juan City Mayor Francis Zamora. The 32-year-old, shouting that he had a grenade, then took more than 30 shoppers and store workers hostage inside an administration office on the second floor.
The security guard is in a stable condition, Zamora said.
Negotiations went on for hours as hundreds of police officers gathered outside the mall, including rescue teams and armed members of the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team. “We will do our very best to settle this issue peacefully,” Zamora said. “We will exert all effort to ensure no one gets hurt in this situation.”
Eyewitnesses said gunshots could be heard from the administration office, according to CNN affiliate CNN Philippines.
In a Skype call at 3:45 p.m. local time (2:45 a.m. ET), Paray complained that he had been fired, and demanded the resignation of four executives from the shopping mall’s security company, SASCOR Armor Security.
The gunman also asked to talk to several of his former colleagues via video chat and for a public apology from the company. Both demands were met.
During a video call with his ex-colleagues, Paray expressed anger at a “corrupt system in the company” and claimed that the firm “looks down on us security guards.”
Six company directors jointly resigned from their positions and apologized for aggrieving him in a news conference. “I deeply regret my shortcomings,” one supervisor said. “Because of this, I will resign from my post… to give way to a solution to our current problem.”
Paray released one hostage earlier on Monday evening before walking out of the mall with the rest of them at around 8 p.m. local time (7 a.m. ET).
He held a short news conference in which he said he had acted because he was angry at the practices of the security company and that it was rife with corruption.
Paray was arrested and taken away by heavily armed members of the SWAT branch of the Manila Police. A handgun was found concealed in his pocket upon his arrest.
Police did not say whether any of the hostages had been hurt, nor the exact number caught up in the violence.
According to its website, Greenhills is a shopping, dining and entertainment destination made up of more than 2,000 stores and situated about 20 minutes from Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
A high-profile 2010 hostage-taking in Manila ended with the deaths of eight Hong Kong tourists. An ex-police officer, armed with an M-16 assault rifle, hijacked a bus near a tourist destination close to police headquarters in a desperate bid to get his job back.
Negotiations broke down after nightfall and the ex-officer began shooting passengers, prompting commandos to storm the bus.
Additional reporting by Isaac Yee in Hong Kong.