'Leave! Now! Take cover! You're in the firing range': behind the scenes of Hong Kong estate gunman drama

No ordinary Sunday for residents, reporters and 'Flying Tigers' as gun drama unfolds on estate

PUBLISHED : Monday, 02 June, 2014, 5:20am
UPDATED : Monday, 02 June, 2014, 5:20am

What began as a peaceful Sunday morning turned into a high-tension drama featuring explosives, gunshots, stun grenades, tear gas and a public display of skill by the elite "Flying Tigers" unit.

Residents of Lok Ching House had assumed the shooting was over after an air-conditioning technician was shot dead late on Saturday night.

Little did they know that the suspect was still at large in the tower block.

"Do I need to get myself one of those bulletproof vests too?" asked resident Mr Chan, 67, pointing at one of the helmeted police officers nearby when neighbours told him the gunman was still inside.

Reporters were given a taste of what it was like covering gunfights back in the 1990s, when the city's notorious "king of thieves" Yip Kai-foon and his gang sprayed bullets in the streets from their AK-47s.

"Leave! Now! Take cover! You're within the firing range!" police officers shouted to reporters after a sudden bang.

Watch: Police ask reporters to take cover after fresh gunshots heard in Hong Kong tower block

Reporters had mistakenly thought they were far from danger after being evacuated to about 60 metres away.

Despite the threat, cameramen and photojournalists continued capturing the scene while taking cover behind parked vehicles or pillars, alongside helmeted officers in bulletproof vests.

"Many residents here are very hot-tempered," said one resident who gave only her surname, Wong. "I often hear noises downstairs - some people swear loudly at night when they forget the door passcode."

She said most people on Kai Ching Estate lived alone.

Wong added that Hongkongers were a minority on the estate, with most residents recent immigrants from the mainland.

The 7.62mm pistol recovered from the scene is thought to be a Black Star pistol made on the mainland, according to both a senior inspector and a former superintendent.

They said the gun had rarely been seen in Hong Kong in recent years, though in the early 1980s it was relatively common in armed robberies.

A police source said most of the Black Star pistols found in Hong Kong recently had come from the mainland.

The model is still in use by the mainland's military.

"This is Hong Kong - I could never have imagined that one of my neighbours had a gun at home," said one resident after the suspect was taken to hospital.

The most recent media reports of the Special Duties Unit being deployed were in 2011, when a haul of 567kg of cocaine, worth an estimated HK$600 million, was seized in Tuen Mun.

The Kai Ching Estate was one of the places visited by former president Hu Jintao during his trip to Hong Kong in 2012.

The public housing estate, under construction at the time of Hu's visit, was part of the Kai Tak development project.

Hu visited two of the flats and waved from a window.