The spot where suspected serial robber and killer Zhou Kehua died in a blaze of gunfire this week has become a local tourist attraction in Chongqing , but the macabre interest has raised some eyebrows for being distasteful.
Many residents in the municipality had visited the Tongjiaqiao area of Shapingba district where the 42-year-old Zhou was shot dead by police outside a shoe factory on Tuesday, the Huashang Daily reported yesterday.
Visitors had mobile phones and cameras at the ready to take photos and video of the site, while some went as far as to question residents who live nearby, hoping to get a first-hand account of the shoot-out with police that authorities say put an end to a series of robberies and murders dating back to April 2004.
The official death toll attributed to Zhou was 10 people, including a PLA guard in 2009. Several people climbed the stairs of the apparently vacant shoe factory, while others lingered in the area and posed for photos near the brick wall where Zhou died.
A massive manhunt involving 10,000 police officers, and the subsequent shooting, has dominated mainland media and been played up by authorities for a week, since two people were killed in the municipality on August 10 and the fugitive Zhou was blamed.
But some online commentators have been bitter, expressing disbelief at the reaction and morbid interest. "This is a tragedy, but it has been treated as a farce," one person said in the comment section under the Huashang Daily story.
The Chongqing Economic Times revealed more details yesterday about how Zhou was hunted down, saying he was first spotted by officers early on Tuesday, at around midnight, near two banks in the Tongjiaqiao area that police believed would be his next target. He previously targeted people, who made withdrawals at banks, and he became known for shooting victims in the head.
The paper reported that eight policemen were waiting in the area for Zhou to appear again, and he was gunned down while approaching two officers shortly before 7am.
Police have since detained Zhou's 20-year-old girlfriend for questioning, The Beijing News reported. It was not known whether she would face charges.
Meanwhile, the two officers became celebrities overnight.
"I have been a policeman for more than 30 years," Wang Xiaoyu told China News Service. "[As for the fame], I will try to take it easy."