Galleria mall heist leaves 1 dead, 6 hurt

Posted at 03/29/12 10:59 AM

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE 10) – Suspected riding-in-tandem robbers conducted a daring daylight robbery inside Robinsons Galleria Mall in Ortigas Thursday morning, killing a security guard and injuring 6 others.

Cops establish a police line outside the Ortigas Avenue
entrance of Robinsons Galleria following a robbery incident
inside the mall on Thursday. (photo from DZMM Facebook)

Robinsons Land corporate PR manager Roseann Coscolluela-Villegas said the mall was still closed when 2 suspects "forcibly entered the mall" before 10 am and went to the mall’s first level to rob Security Bank roving tellers who were delivering money.

"At least 2 armed men tried to rob the roving tellers of Security Bank in Quezon City at around 10 a.m. today. Police authorities responded to the alarm, which is part of the mall security setup, within 15 minutes," an official statement from Robinsons Land said.

Villegas said 2 security guards were injured during a shootout between the suspects and mall security. One of the guards, identified as Rodrigo Villa, later died while receiving treatment at Medical City in Pasig.

The other guard was Roderick Reloso. He remains in critical condition at the said hospital.

Two Security Bank tellers, Vincent Mangatura and Lea del Mundo, were injured after the suspects threw a grenade at them. Three mall goers -- Paul Adrian, Johanssen Dionisia and Rabe Jeremy -- were also injured.

The robbers fled onboard a motorcycle, carrying an undetermined amount of cash.

The spokeswoman said the mall was closed for a few hours after the incident and has since reopened to the public.

Security lapse

Quezon City police district chief Mario dela Vega said the Security Bank roving tellers had already made an initial delivery at the Sanry money changer branch near the EDSA side of the mall.

"The amount was received and then on their way back to the second branch near Ortigas, they passed through the mall and along the way they were fired upon. Nagputukan na kaagad," he said.

He said the suspects threw 2 grenades, only 1 of which exploded inside the mall. He said the second grenade’s pin was already removed when the police discovered it.

Dela Vega said they will investigate a possible security lapse that allowed the robbers to enter the mall.

"Ang basic question - paano nakapasok? We will start from there. We will talk with the security officer of Robinsons. I also asked them to gather all the security so we could identify the exact lapse," he said.

Authorities are also studying the mall's CCTV footage.

Mall management insists there was no lapse in security.

"They entered the mall forcibly, and they were carrying guns!" said Rose Anne Villegas, public relations official of Robinsons Land Corp.

Security Bank, meanwhile, posted the following statement about the incident.

"We deplore this lawless act of violence but at this point, our primary concern is the well being of our employee and the innocent bystanders. We are fully cooperating with police authorities in their investigation and will support all their efforts to bring to justice those responsible for this blatant criminality at the soonest possible time," the bank said.

Eyewitness accounts

A witness, identified only as "Raymart", said he was eating at Chowking Restaurant when the suspects wearing yellow green uniforms went inside the mall Thursday morning and started shooting at guards near the Robinsons Bank.

"Hindi siya normal na putukan. Medyo nagtagal. Malapit lang sa shopping area yung putukan," he told Mornings@ANC.

“Nagstart ang putukan hindi sa labas, sa loob talaga,” he added.

He said he dropped to the floor when he heard rapid gunfire. He said the shooting lasted a long time, followed by an explosion.

“I don’t know how [the robbers] got in the mall. They were already inside the mall when the shooting started,” he said.

He said people hid inside the fast food kitchen for 30-45 minutes. He said they were only allowed to leave the kitchen after they were given the all-clear.

"Nagdeklara ng holdap, kitang-kitang binaril ang isa sa mga guard," another witness said.

One victim, Lea del Mundo, said they suddenly heard an explosion.

One of her companions was hit on the leg.

DZMM correspondent Arnell Ozaeta said a pistol magazine was also found at the crime scene.

The explosion and gunfire caused panic as people fled the area. All stores inside the mall were closed  and people prevented from entering for several hours.

The Metro Manila Development Authority posted an advisory in its Twitter account, warning motorists of heavy traffic near the Galleria entrance on the northbound lane of EDSA. – With reports from Arnell Ozaeta, dzMM; ANC; and Atom Araullo, ABS-CBN News