Hostages from Philippines shopping mall released after hours-long siege

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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 freed more than 30 people from Virra Mall, in the Greenhills shopping complex, after one of his demands was met, San Juan City Mayor Francis Zamora said in a news conference on Monday evening local time.

Paray had demanded via FaceTime earlier in the day that his former employers at SASCOR Armor Security should stand down for dismissing him. Six directors company jointly resigned from their positions and apologized for aggrieving him.

Paray held a short news conference after walking out following the release of the hostages. He said he had taken people hostage because he was angry at the practices of the security company he worked at. He added that the company was rife with corruption.

Shortly afterwards, Paray was arrested and taken away by heavily armed members of the Special Weapons and Tactics branch of the Manila Police. Paray was found to have one handgun concealed in his pocket upon his arrest.

Speaking to reporters at the scene earlier, Zamora said the gunman entered the mall at around 10 a.m. Monday local time (9 p.m. Sunday ET), and shot and wounded an employee. That person is in a stable condition, Zamora said.

The gunman then took about 30 people hostage inside an administration office on the second floor.

“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.”

The resignations were one of several demands made by Paray. He 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 former colleagues, Paray expressed anger at a “corrupt system in the company” and claimed that the company “looks down on us security guards.”

Hundreds of police officers had gathered outside the shopping mall during the siege, including rescue teams and armed members of the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team. About 15 to 20 ambulances were waiting on standby.

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 that four executives from the shopping mall’s security company resign.

Eyewitnesses said gunshots could be heard from the administration office, according to CNN affiliate CNN Philippines.

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 away from Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

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