Six injured in chopper attack by mentally ill man

Police reinforcements called to subdue armed, mentally ill man after he slashes officers and paramedic in his family flat in Western district

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 December, 2013, 6:49pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 04 December, 2013, 5:00am

A constable drew his revolver to stop a mentally ill man from attacking a paramedic with a chopper amid a violent rampage in a family flat yesterday that left six people injured.

A police sergeant, two constables and the paramedic rushed to the flat in Western district in response to a call from the 32-year-old man's mother after he locked himself in a bedroom and refused to take his medicine or see a doctor.

While the officers were talking to the man's parents, both in their sixties, he burst out of the bedroom and began attacking the police with a chopper.

"The sergeant and one of his colleagues were chopped in the attack, and they were forced to evacuate the flat and call in reinforcements," an officer said.

After the sergeant, who suffered head wounds, and the constable, who sustained arm and shoulder injuries, retreated, the remaining officer took the man's mother to an empty room for her safety.

He then spotted her son threatening the paramedic with the chopper. "The constable ran out of the bedroom and drew his gun, issuing warnings to the suspect," the officer said.

At the same time, police reinforcements arrived and subdued the chopper-wielding man with the help of the paramedic.

The paramedic and two officers were injured as they subdued the man.

The 69-year-old father was also hurt but it has not been made clear how he sustained his injuries.

Both the sergeant and constable needed surgery. It was the 48th birthday of the sergeant, who was the most badly hurt in the attack.

All six were either in stable condition or had been discharged last night.

Describing the situation as "very chaotic", Bruce Hawkins, assistant Western district commander, said the police officers as well as the paramedic had acted in a "most exemplary fashion".

"Despite facing a very dangerous situation, they were able to lead two civilians to safety while ensuring that the most seriously injured officers were taken out of harm's way," he said.

Hawkins said that police were looking into why the three officers who arrived first at the scene were not in armour or carrying shields.

Professor Eric Chen Yu-Hai, head of psychiatry at the University of Hong Kong, said frontline police officers should have special training to deal with situations involving mentally ill people.

"It is quite obvious that the attacker had been frightened so that he armed himself to secure self-protection," he said.

"Encountering such a situation, police officers should do all they can to calm the person down in a peaceful atmosphere, where he can relax his tense nerves," Chen added.

Last night, the man was being detained in the hospital's custodial ward and no charges had been laid.