The mentally ill man who punched and slashed 23 people - mostly children - in a Henan province primary school on Friday rampaged through the premises for more than half an hour before he was stopped.
Witnesses told the Southern Metropolis Daily that Min Yingjun, 36, faced resistance from only an elderly woman and children after many teachers locked themselves in their classrooms as he roamed the Chengpeng Village Primary School in Guangshan county.
Seven pupils and the woman remained in critical condition yesterday, Xinhua said. Several were transferred to nearby cities as the county hospitals lacked necessary facilities.
The chaos began shortly after 7am, when a witness, villager Dai Xiurong, said Min began punching pupils near the school's entrance. The students screamed and scattered, attracting the attention of Xiang Jiaying, 84, who lived nearby.
Xiang placed herself between the students and Min, who began hitting her instead. The elderly woman fled into her house, pursued by Min, who grabbed a large knife from her kitchen table and stabbed her.
Waving the blade, Min returned to the school, where more than 300 pupils, most aged eight to 14, were settling into the school day. There were no security guards at the gate to stop him, pupils told the paper.
Min slashed his way through the three-storey building, sending terrified pupils fleeing from their classrooms and screaming for help. Some teachers locked themselves up in their rooms, the paper said.
The attacker faced little resistance as he pursued students from the ground floor to the top floor. He was finally subdued by security guards and parents around 8am. The suspect suffered a serious head injury during the struggle, a doctor said.
The government said the suspect was mentally ill and had a history of violence. He had suffered from epilepsy for 20 years.