Slain fugitive in Chongqing told lover about robbery plans

Killer on the run, the target of one of the biggest police manhunts on the mainland, discussed robbery plans with his girlfriend before staging them

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 16 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 16 August, 2012, 4:23am


The fugitive who triggered one of the largest police manhunts in years would regularly exchange text messages and phone calls with his 20-year-old girlfriend about robberies he planned to stage.

The detail was one of many to emerge yesterday about Zhou Kehua , who was suspected of killing at least 10 people in a robbery and shooting spree since 2004.

One of the victims was a People's Liberation Army guard, who was shot in 2009.

The manhunt ended when Zhou (pictured) was shot dead by police in Chongqing on Tuesday morning, according to the Municipal Public Security Bureau.

Citing police sources, CCTV said Zhou, 42, would discuss plans with his girlfriend - who is now under police detention - before staging each robbery.

Hong Kong-based Wen Wei Po identified the girlfriend as Zhang Guiying , who was from Yibin , in Sichuan province, and now residing in Chongqing.

On Monday, Zhou reportedly sent Zhang a text message saying last Friday's robbery did not yield much money and he was plotting a second one for Tuesday,

According to the Southern Metropolis Weekly, Zhou had been rejected by the army twice in 1995.

Citing relatives and friends, the report said Zhou had a fascination for guns and bathed in cold water but abstained from cigarettes and alcohol.

He married Xu Rong in 1995 and they had a son. Xu was quoted as saying Zhou loved guns more than his own life. She said he had once analysed how fugitives ended up getting caught. He seldom spoke over a mobile phone and preferred phone cards to call his family, often using code words.

The hands of Zhou's mother were shaking as she covered her face with a fan when reporters tried to interview her in her home. She said she could not remember the last time Zhou returned home and that he had never given her any money, China National Radio reported.

Zhou is believed to have netted 485,000 yuan in the eight years of robberies. He sent most of the money to Xu for family expenses even though he divorced her in 2002, according to reports.

On Friday, three people were shot outside a bank in Shapingba. One woman was killed. The attacker, suspected to be Zhou, made off with more than 70,000 yuan (HK$85,300).

Police said he also shot dead a railway security officer on a train later that day. Police immediately launched a hunt involving nearly 10,000 officers, searching the district and the nearby Gele Mountain.

Zhou was spotted on Saturday in a cinema by a woman, who tipped off the police. She was given a reward of 600,000 yuan for helping solve the case, according to reports.

Zhou's case attracted intense media coverage given the ban on owning firearms. Zhou was shot dead by two policemen just before 7am on Tuesday in Shapingba.

Drawing a close to the case has eased the minds of people, who had feared for their safety. But criticism has also been growing on the internet about how the police handled their investigation.

One online user yesterday questioned how the Ministry of Public Security could award Chongqing police a top commendation two hours after Zhou had been gunned down.

"That was not even enough time for thorough DNA tests for the family to identify the body, and witnesses' identification. We only had pictures of a person lying in a pool of blood," he said.