Panic at Hong Kong library as man leaves toy gun next to an online map of Islamic State
Arrested man found to have box cutter had browsed a link connected to a map of Islamic State
A Hong Kong man caused a mild panic at a public library on Tuesday, after leaving what looked like a pistol on a desk and browsing a link connected to a map of Islamic State.
Police were called to the scene in Sha Tin, where they soon discovered the suspicious item was in fact a toy gun.
But the man was arrested, after officers found he was carrying a box cutter.
Police said the incident happened on the third floor of Yuen Chau Kok Public Library at the junction of Ngan Shing Street and Sha Tin Wai Road, a few blocks from City One MTR station, soon before 9.45am.
“A staff member called police, saying a man left a pistol-like object on a desk while using a computer,” a police spokeswoman said.
Officers were immediately sent to the library. The spokeswoman said officers found the toy gun and the man, who is 26 and lives in Sha Tin district. The man also had a box cutter on him, and he was arrested on suspicion of possessing an offensive weapon.
“Initial investigation revealed that in the library the suspect had browsed a link connected to the geographic maps of Islamic State and the Arab World,” a police source said.
He added this was why officers from the cyber security and technology crime bureau were called to check the websites the man had visited.
It was understood the force’s counterterrorism and internal security division was told of the arrest.
The suspect was found sitting in a chair and browsing a website in the library when officers arrived.
The source said he appeared to be calm when he was handcuffed and taken away.
A piece of paper with two Chinese characters scribbled on it – Nam Cheong – was also seized at the scene. It was not clear whether the writing referred to Nam Cheong MTR station.
The source said officers were poring over security camera footage to review the suspect’s activities and movement before he arrived at the library.
The man, who is unemployed, was believed to be autistic. He lives alone in a public housing flat in Sha Tin.
It is understood he did not have a criminal record or history of violence.
Detectives from the New Territories South regional crime unit were investigating why he was carrying the toy gun to the library.
“We will also check whether he has a history of mental illness,” the source said.