Angry farmer who threatened children after his house demolished detained

Suspect turns himself in after warning of retaliation against schools for losing land

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 15 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 15 January, 2013, 3:53am

A Hunan farmer turned himself in last night following a citywide manhunt in Guangzhou that began at the weekend after he threatened to attack schools in the city.

Guangzhou police said the suspect, Cao Zaifa ,was "unhappy" about the demolition of his home and seizure of his land by the local government in Rucheng county, Chenzhou . He sent a text message to the county's police chief on Friday, threatening bloody violence in Guangzhou's kindergartens and at Sun Yat-sen University, The Southern Metropolis Daily reported online.

Police suspect that Cao and two others, possibly his relatives, drove more than 340 kilometres from Rucheng to Guangzhou, likely in two cars, on Saturday, managing to shake off police who had been pursuing them.

The county is located near the border of Hunan and Guangdong provinces.

Guangzhou authorities alerted schools and residents to the emergency before classes started yesterday, after a quiet start to the manhunt over the weekend. More than 200 police officers and security guards were dispatched to neighbourhoods near Sun Yat-sen University, the largest university in Guangzhou. Some kindergartens cancelled classes.

Wanted posters with Cao's photograph were posted in many residential neighbourhoods.

Police said last night that Cao turned himself in at 6.50pm. They did not give further details.

Before word of his detainment, students and faculty at Sun Yat-sen said that while the campus appeared calm everyone was worried.

A sociology professor said by telephone that police were mostly outside the campus.

"But everyone is afraid," he added, declining to be named. "It is not the first time that a demolition in a small town has evolved into a big incident with a national impact, and it is definitely not the last."

Some people in Rucheng said they did not approve of Cao's threat of violence but were sympathetic to his plight.

A restaurant owner said that the suspect was one of many residents in the county who had lost their homes and land to make way for massive government construction projects.