'It will haunt me': Witnesses tell of guilt after watching 'cult' kill woman in McDonald's
Bystanders fiercely criticised for not intervening recount the night of the attack
Two witnesses to the killing of a woman by alleged cult members in a McDonald’s are “riddled with guilt” after no-one came to the victim’s aid.
The pair – a man and woman – told the South China Morning Post of their horror after witnessing five adults and a child ferociously attack and kill a woman in Shandong, in a case that stunned the nation and sparked outrage online after other onlookers did not intervene.
The victim, surnamed Wu and the mother of a five-year-old boy, was waiting in the restaurant in Zhaoyuan for her husband after work when she was approached by the six suspects, believed to be a family that were members of the Quannengshen (“All Powerful God”) religious sect, who asked for her phone number.
When she refused, surveillance footage showed the six beating her with their fists, chairs and a metal mop. They continued to kick Wu as she lay bloodied on the ground.
Watch: A witness video of the attack at McDonald's (WARNING: Graphic content)
Many witnesses, who were accused of being cowardly and cold-blooded, have come forward to offer help to the victim’s family.
One witness who spoke to the Post on condition of anonymity said he had shouted “stop” in the middle of the violent attack. He was confronted by one of the suspects, who threatened to kill him if he interfered.
“I still feel guilty about not being able to help,” he said. “But I’m willing to be a witness in court if needed.”
The witness said he and others nearby at first thought the incident might be a family dispute because the victim did not scream for help.
He said many other witnesses ran outside to call police as the attack intensified. The police confirmed to local media that they received 10 calls and rushed to the scene within five minutes of being alerted to the attack.
The suspects were arrested for suspected intentional homicide. A sixth will be dealt with separately because he is under the age of criminal responsibility.
“It all happened too soon and we were simply shocked,” the witness said. “People in this neighbourhood are used to a peaceful life, and we’d never come across anything like this before the attack.”
Another witness in her 20s told the Post that she was overwhelmed by the killing.
"The little boy who was with the family was so calm. Even when the police arrived, he kicked the victim in the head, yelling ‘evil goes to hell’.
"Even now, I’m simply puzzled by what happened. How could an innocent little boy behave so cruelly? Why did this happen in Zhaoyuan? That night will not stop haunting me until the day I find some answers.”
A relative of Wu, who did not want to be named, told the Post that witnesses had provided key evidence including video and photos to police.
"I asked witnesses to contact the police directly and they did,” said the relative, adding that he did not think any witnesses were trying to avoid their legal responsibilities.
Wang Silu, a prominent criminal lawyer, believed that if the suspects were confirmed to be cult members and found guilty of the killing, they would receive harsher punishments.
The government would likely offer compensation in such a case, Wang added.