Gunman may have kept weapons for jail friend

Police trying to trace source of handguns and ammunition found after Kowloon Bay shooting are focusing on possible prison connections

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 05 June, 2014, 4:48am
UPDATED : Thursday, 05 June, 2014, 7:28am

A man who allegedly shot dead a neighbour before killing himself in Kowloon Bay over the weekend may have been storing guns and ammunition in his apartment for a friend he met in jail, police sources said.

Anti-triad officers are now looking closer at 51-year-old Li Tak-yan's friends and acquaintances and are scrutinising his phone records in an effort to find the source of the two handguns, 43 rounds of ammunition and three holsters found in his apartment.

"His ex-wife told our officers that she had no knowledge he had firearms before they divorced in 2010," the source said.

Li was jailed in 2011 for a year for slashing a neighbour's hand in a temporary housing estate in Yuen Long. He moved into the Lok Ching House flat in Kai Ching Estate, where the shootings took place, last August.

Police are also exploring the possibility that Li's underworld links enabled him to amass the weapons. His former wife told officers that he had worked in a triad-run gambling den in the wholesale fruit market in Yau Ma Tei between 2005 and 2010.

However, another police source said: "Our probe indicated that [Li] was penniless and depraved. He was not a triad member. We don't think his connections were good enough to help him buy the weapons."

The source said officers were focusing on whether Li was helping a friend to store the firearms, but added that police were investigating all possibilities to establish how the weapons entered Hong Kong.

As the two handguns found in the flat were believed to be made across the border, police are seeking assistance from mainland authorities.

Yesterday, police said it was still a mystery why Li allegedly shot dead Liu Kai-chung, a 43-year-old air-conditioning technician, on the 21st floor of Lok Ching House on Saturday night.

A 12-hour stand-off ended when Li shot himself in his flat on the 10th floor while elite officers used explosives, tear gas and stun grenades to storm the unit.

Police said last night that postmortem examinations revealed Li died of a gunshot to the head and Liu died from two gunshots to his left chest.

No evidence has been uncovered to indicate that the men knew each other or had a dispute.

A police investigator said they were also looking into the possibility that Li had suffered a sudden mental breakdown.

Yesterday afternoon, 18 district Fight Crime Committee chairmen issued a joint letter to praise the police for their swift action during the incident, eliminating the threat to the public.

Meanwhile, Tsang Yuk, a resident who lives on the 17th floor, said a friend was suffering emotionally from the drama.

"She still has flashbacks to the moment when she saw his [dead air-conditioning technician Liu's] body lying near the elevator lobby," said Tsang, a close friend of the neighbour who lived opposite the victim.

The woman, a single mother, has not returned to her flat where she lived with her 19-year-old daughter, Tsang said.

The Social Welfare Department yesterday said it would continue to provide assistance to the 54 residents they reached on Tuesday, while the Hong Kong Red Cross has launched a counselling hotline.