This article originally appeared on VICE Asia.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
The Greenhills Shopping Center in Metro Manila’s San Juan City is normally filled with locals and tourists but the scene is very different today. It is now on lockdown due to an ongoing hostage situation after gunshots were heard inside the mall as early as 10:00 this morning.
More than a dozen SWAT commandos armed with assault rifles are now on the scene. The mall is also currently surrounded by police officers and an ambulance. Mall-goers have been evacuated but many continue to wait outside the mall to observe what’s going on. Some are even live streaming the event on social media.
Authorities have not identified the gunman’s name but San Juan City Mayor Francis Zamora said that he is a disgruntled former security guard who was fired from his job at the mall. He had been absent for two weeks, without leave. Greenhills Shopping Center confirmed this in a statement posted on Facebook.
"He is carrying a pistol. He is shouting he has a grenade but we don't have any way to confirm that for sure," Zamora told reporters.
The mayor said that the hostage-taker is demanding an audience with his fellow guards and the media. He has also requested food and water. San Juan City police are now leading a negotiation with the gunman.
“Our priority right now is to ensure the safety of the employees, and of the public,” Greenhills Shopping Center’s statement reads. It is now working closely with the authorities and asking for everyone’s cooperation in exercising caution when sharing information about the situation online, amid the spread of unconfirmed reports.
Update 03/02/20 at 8:30 p.m.: The hostages have been freed after day-long negotiations between the police and the hostage-taker. According to reports, the gunman walked out of the mall together with the hostages and left his weapons behind inside the establishment.
As part of the negotiations, six of the hostage-taker's former bosses apologised to him and expressed their intention to resign during a press conference this afternoon. Oscar Hernandez, the general manager of the security firm the hostage-taker worked for, also said that they did not fire the perpetrator and only planned to move him to another post.