Mall-goers panic; Robbers flee after attacking jewelry store

(UPDATE 4) A robbery incident stirred panic among mall-goers in Mandaluyong City Saturday.

Mandaluyong City Police Senior Superintendent Armand Bolalin confirmed the incident, identifying "Martilyo Gang" to be behind the robbery at a jewelry store in Megamall.

"The robbers used hammers to rob the jewelry store," Bolalin said.

"It's a hold-up. They used hammers to get the [jewelry] from the counter," Bolalin added.

This reporter saw people in panic, running in big groups from SM Megamall Building B.

The shooting started at the upper ground floor of department store in SM Megamall Building B, a little past 7 pm.

As of this posting, Bolalin said no casualties have so far been reported.

"There's no report of anyone injured in the incident yet," he said.

Meanwhile, SM management issued a statement around 11 pm. It said it "deeply regrets the robbery incident at a jewelry counter inside SM Megamall on Jan.26 at approx 7:26pm."

SM, quoting initial reports, confirmed "Martilyo Gang" was behind the heist.

"They pounded the jewelry fixtures, broke the glass and stole a still undetermined amount of jewelry before escaping. A gunshot was reportedly fired at the ceiling but fortunately, no casualty was reported," the SM statement added.

SM also confirmed the robbers were able to escape. 

"SM is cooperating with the police to ascertain how or why the Martilyo Gang was able to escape detection. The management has beefed up security and we would like to assure the public that we will be conducting a thorough investigation," SM added.

In an earlier phone interview, SM Megamall spokesperson Ian Mathay confirmed the robbers were able to whisk away jewelry. But he refused to say how much the jewelry cost.

"The police is still conducting initial investigation. We don't know how much is the estimate but I can confirm jewelries have been taken away," Mathay said.

Earlier, Lovely Navarra, a sales lady in the department store, said a series of loud crashes caught mall employees' attention. She then saw a group of men who were collecting jewelry from the counter.

"There was a loud crashing sound from the cosmetics section. When we looked, we saw the counter destroyed before we heard gun shots," Navarra said in Filipino.

"We all panicked and hurried away. Then we heard another series of shooting," she recalled.

Another witness, who requested not to be named, said she saw three men dressed in police uniforms walking around the jewelry counter before the shooting, which lasted for more than 30 seconds.

Confused mall goers were able to go out of SM Megamall at about 8 p.m. The mall was cordoned off until Special Weapons and Tactic units from Philippine National Police Mandaluyong and Pasig arrived at the area past 8 pm.

Cops refused to comment about the uniformed policemen spotted at the jewelry counter, noting they could just be part of the cosplay event that was held at SM Megatrade Hall earlier on Saturday.

Security guards opened SM Megamall to allow people recover their belongings they left behind when the incident took place.

Related slideshow: Photos post-robbery

Scene at Megamall, minutes after the robbery at a jewelry store. (Photo by Rio Ribaya)
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Sat, Jan 26, 2013 9:00 PM PHT
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