Video on SM Pampanga Shooting Goes Viral

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RllYSFg18rI]

 

Viral Video Critique

A Youtube video has come out on the SM Pampanga shooting incident showing policemen and mall security simply watching on as one of the victims lay on the floor, fighting for life.

Two minor boys, aged 13 and 16, were killed during a shooting incident inside SM City in San Fernando, Pampanga last September 20. According to police reports, the younger boy shot his companion and later himself, due to a lovers’ quarrel.

In the video, both boys can be seen lying on the floor inside the mall. One of the two victims was lying face down while flailing both his feet. He then rolled into a lying down position but did not get up. Obviously, he was still alive and should have prompted people around to attend to him. As of 12:45pm (October 14), the video got more than 20,000 views.

The video, which ran 2:58 minutes, also showed police and security guards walking near the two victims. There was also a police photographer taking pictures of the victims from afar. It was only at 2:15 minutes that a security in civilian clothes went near the victims, apparently to check if one of them was still alive. For those who are not aware of the incident from the news, the first perception is that of a “behind-the-scene” video clip of a movie because the people milling around are like zombies busy memorizing their lines.

Voices can also be heard in the video, speaking in both Kapampangan and Tagalog telling the mall security to bring the victims to the hospital. There were no reactions however from anyone. Near the end of the video, security guards discovered the camera and blocked the person taking the video.

SM issued a statement regarding the video. It said it has viewed the amateur video taken shortly after the incident. “We hope that the same could have been brought to the police authorities’ attention sooner to aid in their investigation,” it said.

“As the video itself confirms, police authorities had arrived soon after the incident, placed the scene under their jurisdiction, took over the investigation, and restricted access to the victims,” it said.

“We are one with the victims’ family in their grief and have been continuously cooperating with authorities. Security measures across our malls have already been beefed up,” it added.

PNP spokesman Chief Superintendent Agrimero Cruz said the investigation would look into the possible culpability of police officers and security guards who were seen in the video.

What can be quickly gleaned from the video is that:

First, SM Pampanga does not have a quick first-aid system. If there is one, it was a failure. Ironically, the security guards in the video have first-aid kits in their belts which further changes the perception of the viewing public. From my perspective, there was absence of appropriate response. There could have been attempts to stop the bleeding using cotton balls and gauze bandages. Was everyone seen in the video scared of blood or doesn’t want to stain their uniforms with blood? When I was the Estate Manager of a real estate development, guards provided by the political forces then were scared of blood and dead bodies.

Second, the video suggests that the police were able to proceed, not respond, quickly to the crime scene but medical emergency responders were not.  It is either the medical responders were delayed or they were not called at the same time as the police or worst, if they were not called at all. It was later found out that there were no emergency medical responders present. It was the police who brought the two victims to the hospital.

There should be a review on communication protocols here. The presence of police officers confirms that they have taken control of the scene but their actions confirm their inability to control crowding, kibitzers, and manage the entire scene of the crime;  which reminds me of the Cavite bank hold-up and hostage-taking incident.

Third, the mall security did not immediately cordon off the area. Some mall security guards were seen walking near the victims, which might have contaminated the police investigation. If the mall security cordoned off the area, then there wouldn’t have been a video of the victims’ last minutes, which brings more grief to family and friends of the victims.

Evidently, SM management is not geared for incidents like this. They may have the usual perception that such incident will not happen inside their malls and they did not have hoarding materials to preserve scenes of incidents. Several corporations also share such perspective where security, safety and emergency response are mere lip service or marketing spiels.

In hindsight, the video will further flame the issue of mall security.  Viewers might be outraged from what they might think as lack of proper response from the police and the security guards.

But it should be noted that the video was taken at a crime scene. One of the victims shot his companion in cold blood. If he was still alive at the time, he posed considerable danger to the police, mall security, and even bystanders. The video did not show where the gun was or who has the gun. We do not have facts yet if the gun was properly handled by responding guards or policemen. I have reservations on how such pieces of evidence are being literally handled by gloveless policemen.

Another revelation is that the police will have another investigation based on the video. Does this indicate that there was no thorough investigation of the incident last 20 September?

This may be an isolated incident on the perspective of malls, but the level of security, safety and emergency response of any organization is measured in cases as isolated as this. These are my perspectives, what are yours?