Some residents want mentally ill evicted for fear of another attack

PUBLISHED : Monday, 10 May, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 10 May, 2010, 12:00am

Residents of a Kwai Chung estate where a chopping spree on Saturday resulted in the deaths of two people and serious injury of three said yesterday they were worried about being attacked by other mental patients.

Kwai Shing East Estate residents expressed worries about their personal safety at an evening meeting with government officers, with many calling for the eviction of residents with a history of mental illness.

The 42-year-old man arrested for Saturday's chopper frenzy was found to have a history of mental illness. Ten years ago he chopped and seriously injured his wife at their Tsing Yi home and was later jailed for two years and eight months.

The man was charged yesterday with two counts of murder and three of wounding with intent. He is expected to appear in Tsuen Wan Court today.

At yesterday's meeting, Wu Chong-fai, 38, said he suspected a neighbour at Shing On House had mental problems. The neighbour, who had been living there for about 10 years, had threatened people with a knife and had also fought people.

'I am worried about the safety of my two children. I hope the government can relocate him elsewhere,' Wu told officers at the meeting.

Another resident, Wong Tak-yuen, said several mental patients lived in each block of the estate. 'This is a loophole of government policy that allows mental patients to live here,' he said.

During a visit by the South China Morning Post yesterday, a man some residents said had mental problems confronted reporters with a lighter.

The social welfare and housing departments have set up a help desk in the lobby of Shing Kwok House, where the suspect lived, with a dozen social workers providing counselling. At least 19 residents had received counselling at the help desk, the departments said. The Social Welfare Department said it would invite psychiatrists to provide professional counselling.

Rituals were held yesterday at the estate's management office, where a 35-year-old estate officer was killed and a 32-year-old officer injured.

Family members of the dead officer staged pacifying rituals under a Taoist priest, some wailing bitterly while burning paper offerings. Censers were placed outside Shing Kwok House and Shing On House for residents to burn joss sticks.

One of the injured, a 50-year-old female security guard, remained in critical condition in Princess Margaret Hospital, while the other two were in serious condition.

The Social Welfare Department has offered more than HK$20,000 in financial assistance and counselling to the families of each victim.

Chan Wai-chun, an assistant district officer with the Social Welfare Department, said it had had no previous contact with the suspect. She did not respond when asked if the department should take any blame for Saturday's attack, saying only that residents should take the initiative to report any suspicious cases to the department.