Ex-guard shoots chief, holds 30 hostages in Virra Mall

Hostage situation
Members of a police SWAT team enter a mall after a hostage situation was reported yesterday before noon in Virra Mall in Greenhills, San Juan. AFP/Ted ALJIBE

A DISGRUNTLED security guard shot his officer-incharge in the Virra Mall Shopping Center in Greenhills, San Juan City shortly before noon yesterday before going to the mall’s second floor and took hostage around 30 workers and employees at gunpoint.

At 5:30 p.m. 13 hostages were released unharmed following talks with negotiators, National Capital Region Police Office director Major General Debold M. Sinas said.

Sinas said the hostage-taker identified as Archie Paray, 32, a former military man, shot his superior Ronald Velita at around 11:20 a.m. before going to the administrative office at the second floor and held hostage some 30 employees.

Sinas said the suspect was demanding fair treatment from his superiors and employers. It appears that the suspect has been at odds with Velita.

Velita was rushed to the Cardinal Santos Memorial Hospital for treatment of gunshot wounds.

As successive gunshots were fired, tenants of the Virra Mall scampered for  safety. The management of the mall ordered tenants, employees and shoppers to vacate the building and the mall was placed in total lockdown.

The suspect claimed through a hand-held radio  that he was carrying four grenades.

Heavily-armed SWAT officers cordoned off the scene to prevent people from entering the area as negotiations for the peaceful surrender of the guard began before noon yesterday. Officers also asked people to evacuate the building.

San Juan City Mayor Francis Zamora went to the area and coordinated with the police on the ongoing hostage taking and asked them to act with extreme caution in dealing with the suspect.

With Arlene Rivera