Experts to determine who shot hostage dead
POLICE ballistic experts are investigating whose bullet killed a 31-year-old Korean hostage during the Aberdeen gunbattle in which 20 shots were fired early yesterday.
The driver of the hijacked taxi accused police of opening the back door and firing when the two hostages were trying to overpower their captor.
Passenger Kang Sang-bo died after being hit once in the head and once in a limb.
Ex-convict Cheung Cho-yau, 23, who snatched a policeman's gun in Central earlier and then took three hostages in a taxi, was shot twice in the head and twice in the body.
Police Commissioner Eddie Hui Kei-on promised a full inquiry but refused to offer an opinion as to whether police were justified in opening fire while hostages were being held.
'We will do a full investigation and compile a report for the inquest. Until then, I think it is inappropriate for me to say whether it was correct to open fire,' he said when visiting injured policemen in hospital.
He would not say whether the Korean had been killed by police bullets, but stressed that the safety of hostages was the most important consideration in a confrontation.
Taxi driver Ho Chun-ming, 40, said he and Kang had attempted to overpower the gunman while the female hostage tried to get out from the back seat of the car.
Speaking to the Post from his Kowloon Bay home, Mr Ho said the suspect had fired two shots at police from the left side of the taxi.
No one inside the vehicle seemed to be hurt. As Kang then tried to grab the pistol a policeman opened the rear right door and fired, he said.
'I saw in my rear-vision mirror that the Korean was struggling with the gunman. I turned around and tried to help him hold down the gun. I called out for the police to help,' said Mr Ho.
'An officer opened the right side back door and fired one shot immediately. I thought someone had been hit. I saw an injured person not moving, so I opened my door and fled.' Mr Ho said it was too dark to see who was shot as the gunman and Kang were holding each other.
He said he heard more shots later.
Legislative Councillor Emily Lau Wai-hing said allegations that the police had bungled the attempt to free the hostages had to be investigated by a judicial inquiry.
A Chinese-made 7.62 mm calibre pistol loaded with three rounds of ammunition and a police .38 revolver with five rounds in the chamber were seized after the Shum Wan Road shootout. Police also found five 7.62 mm calibre rounds in Cheung's belt, a Chinese-made holster and a whistle on a green lanyard.
Constable Au Cheuk-yan, 35, was shot twice in the back at close range. He escaped serious injuries as he was wearing a bulletproof vest.
'I don't know how many people were in the taxi. At first, I saw three, but later two. I was shot and fell down. When I got up, I saw only one person,' Constable Au said in hospital.
'I fired at the gunman when I was sure no other people were around,' he said.
Senior Inspector Cheung Chiu-ping, who is in his 30s, was shot in the left shoulder and Constable Leung Kam-hung, 20, was grazed on the head.
Constable Leung said he had tried to take the gun from the suspect believing he was dead.
'He opened his eyes and pointed his gun at me when I got close to him. I stepped back and hit the taxi door. I fired a shot at his neck,' he said.
All three officers were in satisfactory condition.
The Aberdeen shooting occurred at about 12.45 am when police intercepted the hijacked taxi in Shum Wan Road near Shum Wan Pier Drive.
Police fired 13 shots of which four hit Cheung, a local resident convicted of possession of an offensive weapon and wounding in 1990 and 1992 respectively.
Cheung was released from Pik Uk Prison near Sai Kung at the end of March, after serving a shortened four-year sentence due to good conduct.
Cheung escaped from Tsim Sha Tsui on Thursday night after firing two shots at police who tried to stop him for pistol-whipping a girl near Kowloon Public Pier at about 11.10.
Yau Tsim police assistant district commander, crime, Superintendent Kevin Laurie, said three girls were sitting on the railing of the promenade when they were teased by Cheung.
Cheung became agitated when he was told to shut up by one of the girls at about 11.10 pm.
'He then walked up to the girl and told her to jump into the water. He took out a pistol and whipped the 21-year-old woman in the head when she refused,' Superintendent Laurie said.
A party of five plain-clothes officers on anti-crime patrols along the waterfront approached him when they saw the victim lying on the ground.
The officers split into two groups to chase Cheung who was running towards Canton Road.
They chased him to the junction of Canton and Peking roads where he turned and fired two shots which did not hit anybody. Police returned one shot but missed.
Hong Kong Island Senior Superintendent (Crime) Trevor Oakes said it was possible Cheung had slipped into the MTR and crossed to Central where he attacked a senior police constable in Ice House Street at 11.40 pm.
He took the officer's revolver, a speed-loader containing six rounds and a beat radio.
Kang was about to board a taxi in Ice House Street after work when Cheung hijacked the vehicle to Aberdeen.
Also abducted was an 18-year-old girl who was walking with her boyfriend.
Police positioned two taxis to block Shum Wan Road in a bid to intercept the taxi which was speeding towards a dead-end road leading to Ocean Park.
Shooting erupted after the suspect realised he was heading into an ambush by heavily armed officers.
The girl escaped unhurt and Mr Ho sustained a sprained ankle.