Shot fired outside disco by off-duty gaming officer

PUBLISHED : Monday, 25 February, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 25 February, 2008, 12:00am

An off-duty gaming inspector fired a shot outside a Macau disco early yesterday during a dispute involving an allegation of sexual assault.

The inspector, from the Gaming Inspection and Co-ordination Bureau, became involved in an argument with a man after the man's wife accused a friend of the officer of sexually assaulting her in the disco at Fisherman's Wharf.

The mainland woman, in her 20s, claimed that the friend of the officer molested her when she was dancing. She called her Thai husband and they argued with the inspector and his friend.

They moved outside, where the gaming inspector, who was licensed to carry a weapon, produced his gun and fired a shot in the air at about 6am.

Police arrived and seized the gun for examination.

No one was injured and business in the area was not affected during the incident.

A police spokesman said it appeared the inspector opened fire to protect his friend, who was being attacked.

'We believe the gaming inspector just wanted to make sure that his friend would not be hurt,' the spokesman said. 'But these are only our preliminary findings, and further investigation is needed.'

The bureau has 159 inspectors whose duties include enforcing laws and regulations at casinos.

Senior gaming inspectors can apply for a gun licence and use their weapons for self-defence, even when off duty.

Macau legislator Antonio Ng Kuok-cheong called on the government to review regulations governing weapons and civil servants and make the system more transparent.

'Having a gun is only for self-defence and personal safety and should be the only reason for using the gun. The gun should not be used for showing off in front of others or to settle disputes,' he said.

Macau legislator Au Kam-san said lax police assessment of applications for pistol licences lay at the root of the matter.

He said police scrutinised applicants with clean criminal records and reasonable cause to own firearms. But there were no clear written criteria to guide assessment of applicants, nor any tests or rules regulating gun owners.

During a Labour Day protest march in Macau in May last year, a policeman fired five shots into the air 30 minutes after the march began.

The government later said the shots were fired in an attempt to avoid a stampede after some people fell at a crossroads near the Kiang Wu Funeral Home.

The administration praised the officer's 'resolute and restrained' attitude.

But bystander Leong Ngai-keong, 53, was hit by a bullet believed to have been fired by the officer.

More than 6,000 people took part in the protest, Macau's most violent in decades, leaving 21 police officers and dozens of demonstrators injured.