Gunshots near MRT Taft cause panic

Posted at 08/16/2012 4:03 PM | Updated as of 08/16/2012 7:48 PM

MANILA, Philippines (4th UPDATE) – Tension gripped the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) Taft Avenue station due to an armed robbery inside the adjacent Metropoint Mall in Pasay City Thursday afternoon.

Atty. Hernando Cabrera, spokesman of the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA), said gunshots were heard at the mall, causing frightened passengers entering the MRT to flee.

Cabrera said the MRT Taft station was shut down temporarily for the safety and security of the passengers. Operations resumed after a few minutes.

Mall stampede

The incident also triggered panic among mall-goers at the busy Metropoint Mall.

The resulting stampede led to the injury of Andrea Seraso, who said she was headed for the MRT station when she heard the gunshots.

Seraso was knocked down by the crowd and suffered a huge bump on her head after she was stepped on multiple times.

She said another mall-goer brought her to a nearby clinic.

“Akala ko patay na ko kasi marami nang dumagan sa akin eh. Nagising ako, akay-akay ako ni ate, sabi niya, ‘Dadalhin kita sa clinic, hindi kita pwede iwanan na ganyan ang kondisyon mo,” Seraso said.

Pawnshop heist

Initial investigation showed that four suspected members of the “Martilyo Gang” robbed a Tambunting Pawnshop branch located at the mall’s third floor at around 3:25 p.m.

Pasay City police chief Sr. Supt. Melchor Reyes said that according to witnesses, two of the suspects entered the pawnshop while two others served as a lookout.

Reyes said one of the suspects also fired two warning shots.

Police tried to pursue to suspects after the heist, but all four were able to escape by blending in with the crowd.

Several witnesses said the suspects changed their clothes immediately after the robbery.

“’Yung tatlong mama na galing [sa mall], nagpalit ng damit,” said one witness.

They were reportedly seen riding a taxi cab headed for Taguig City.

Police are now investigating the closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage that captured the suspects escaping the scene.

They have yet to determine the amount of jewelry carted away by the suspects.

Metropoint is managed by Ayala Land.

In a statement, Ayala Land said: "On or about 3:25pm today, four unidentified suspects attempted to rob a pawnshop at the third floor of Metropoint Mall in Pasay City. The Pasay PNP immediately responded and have locked down the mall and are now conducting clearing operations."

"We are fully cooperating with the police authorities and our security officers are closely coordinating with them for the resolution of this incident." -- Reports from Jojo Malig, ABS-CBNnews.com; Ricky Velasco, dzMM; Jenny Reyes and Ryan Chua, ABS-CBN News