Police to review possible lapses in handling hostage incident

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 3) — Authorities will look into the possible mistakes committed by security personnel in handling the hours-long hostage-taking incident at a mall in San Juan City.

San Juan Police Chief Jaime Santos on Tuesday told CNN Philippines he will meet with the management of V-Mall in Greenhills and its security agency to discuss possible lapses after disgruntled former guard Alchie Paray was able to enter the crowded shopping center with a pistol and grenade.

"We will be discussing matters pertaining to security with the Ortigas management and the security agency tasked to man the entire Greenhills in order for us to talk what are the possible lapses made in the security. We have to improve more the security of Greenhills. Let's avoid the repetition of the incident," he said.

Paray was able to enter the mall carrying a .45 pistol and a grenade. Metro Manila police chief Debold Sinas said the grenade was in his bag together with three star apples.

Paray shot Roland Beleta, the security guard on duty at the mall, at 11:16 a.m. Monday. Beleta questioned the presence of Paray, who had been absent without leave for weeks, according to authorities.

Paray then rounded up his hostages and kept them captive in the administration office in the mall for more than nine hours. Throughout the hostage crisis, San Juan Mayor Francis Zamora was able to converse with the suspect. Onlookers outside V-Mall also took the incident live on their personal Facebook pages.

The standoff ended with the hostages released unharmed following the apology and resignation of Paray's bosses.

After his surrender, the 40-year-old suspect was allowed to address the media to air his grievances of being fired by his security agency. The suspect, who was not bound by handcuffs, was tackled and arrested by security forces 20-minutes into his speech.

Santos clarified Paray was not given a chance to hold a "press conference," rather it was a ruse so authorities can arrest him while his guard is down.

Paray was still armed as he addressed the media — a setup which Zamora agreed to, trusting that the hostage-taker would not make any abrupt action. Police snipers, however, were already in position just in case Paray attempted to take out his gun.

The San Juan police chief said he believes the authorities performed their jobs well given the circumstances.

"Personally, there are no lapses committed, but there are things we can polish. We handled it correctly. The mayor activated the crisis management team which he headed himself. We have a negotiator, police officers, team assessing the situation from time to time," he said.

He also said there are security actions that could have been executed better, such as how the authorities approached the suspect and the time given to him to address the public.

"That situation is very volatile. It involves a lot of hostages and lots of people around. That's a very sensitive decision on our part. And all we have to do is be precise and accurate. We cannot perfect things all at the same time, that's why our crisis management team is very careful in tackling things," he said.