Woman arrested for deadly shooting in Hong Kong was ‘weird’, neighbours in her Tseung Kwan O estate say
Police search turns up two model guns and one air gun at flat of Ada Tsim, 44, who claimed to be Hong Kong’s first overseas-trained female bodyguard
The 44-year-old woman who allegedly shot dead an elderly aunt and uncle and wounded two other relatives in a Hong Kong park on Tuesday was described as “weird” by those who saw her around Kin Ming Estate in Tseung Kwan O.
One of her neighbours on the 15th floor of Kin Ching House said he often bumped into Ada Tsim Sum-kit at the lift lobby but would avoid her “because she seemed to be neurotic”.
The man in his 20s, surnamed Tsang, said she had never spoken to neighbours though some residents “had some discussions about her”.
He added: “I always found her look and behaviour weird. She always walked with her head down and back hunched, wearing all those boyish clothes.”
Once, he recalled, he saw her arguing intensely with the owner of a noodle shop in the neighbourhood, after she asked for something that was not on the menu.
“She looked so intense and grumpy,” Tsang said, adding that the owner refused to serve her and kicked her out of the restaurant.
A staff member at Wai Kee Stall Noodles, located in the nearby cooked food centre and market, said he recognised Tsim from photos.
“The look on her face is always serious and somehow weird,” the staffer said, though he added he did not remember her having an argument with the owner.
Tsim, who was arrested after the shooting, ran a security company called BodyGuard01, according to a source.
She is featured in photos and promotional videos on the company’s website, which advertises her as Hong Kong’s first overseas-trained female bodyguard and a member of the International Bodyguard Association. Some of the footage and many of the photos show Tsim holding and firing a gun.
One advertisement on the website promises “professional bodyguard service for distinguished guests, clients and leaders”, and offers accompaniment for clients on “leisure trips in Hong Kong, gambling in Macau and travelling overseas”.
The service costs HK$35,000 (US$4,460) for 80 hours and HK$55,000 for 200 hours. The company also provides “real bullet” and “wild experience group” packages in secret locations in various countries for HK$28,000.
However, the Post found the company is not registered in Hong Kong, and was not listed as a licensed security company according to the Security Bureau’s website.
Under the Security and Guarding Services Ordinance, a company and employees must obtain a licence to supply security work.
Former police superintendent Clement Lai Ka-chi, who is the founder of a security company that offers bodyguard service, said BodyGuard 01 once approached him two years ago as the company wanted to subcontract a business deal to Lai. But Lai said he did not know Tsim.
“A woman asked me in a mainland accent if some of my bodyguards could work with her, as her client wanted to be protected by someone with a G4 background,” Lai said. “I did not take the deal as this company sounded secretive.
“It never disclosed any information [about the company]. The professionalism and quality of this company is also questionable.”
He added bodyguards in Hong Kong were not allowed to carry guns as the city had very tight gun controls, while it was not easy for a security company to receive a licence.
Local Chinese-language newspaper Apple Daily interviewed a woman whom it believed to be Tsim, last year. The interviewee, who went by “Lee Sum-kit” – a different surname – claimed she had served as a bodyguard to tycoons and politicians.
The interviewee told the newspaper almost all bodyguards had a police or military background, and they all entered the industry in Hong Kong through references.
She said when rich people hired bodyguards, candidates were required to fight a real person to prove their combat skills, and how much pain they could endure.
“There is no getting off work when you are accompanying your boss,” she said. “The salary is good, but you don’t necessarily have jobs every day.”
Tsim is known to have worked as a bodyguard in mainland China. The demand for female bodyguards north of the border has grown in the past decade as wealthy businesspeople prefer hiring women to protect their families, according to Chen Tong, the founder and manager of Zhongzhou Tewei, a Shenzhen-based private security firm, who talked to the Post early last year.
Chen said female bodyguards could earn, on average, 40 per cent more than their male colleagues, and an increasing number of women were trying to enter the industry.
According to a female bodyguard social media group, Tsim went to the Philippines early this year for shooting training with 11 male colleagues.
The suspect made headlines on Tuesday when she allegedly opened fire on four elderly relatives in Quarry Bay Park after a dispute over her grandmother's inheritance.
Tsim allegedly shot her 80-year-old aunt in the front of the head and her 62-year-old uncle in the back of the head. Both were rushed to Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital in Chai Wan, where the aunt died at 6.35pm. The 62-year-old uncle died at 2.41pm on Wednesday.
The two other victims, a 72-year-old uncle and a 60-year-old aunt, were shot in the shoulder and hand and taken to hospital, with the uncle’s condition improving from critical to serious, while the aunt remained stable, a government spokesman said on Wednesday.
Police have classified the case as murder and attempted murder.
On Tuesday night, Tsim was taken to her flat for a search. Officers collected two model guns, an air gun and some documents.
A police source said the weapon used in the attack may have been ordered online and smuggled into Hong Kong piece by piece in the mail.
Although the force’s firearms examination division had yet to confirm the model, an insider believed it was an Italian-made Beretta 950 Jetfire, based on a picture of the gun taken at the scene.
The insider said the pistol, made of an aluminium alloy, was not common in Hong Kong.
“I don’t think you can fool the customs authority by arriving in Hong Kong with an actual pistol or by mailing it to the city in one piece,” the insider said.
Another source familiar with the firearm said a loaded Beretta 950 Jetfire weighed only about 300 grams, making it easy to conceal and carry.
The 25 calibre single-action semi-automatic, which can hold eight rounds, was manufactured from 1952 until production stopped in 2003.
According to the Beretta website, a 21A Bobcat pistol, similar in size and weight to the 950 Jetfire, costs US$410. International delivery is not available.
The most common gun in Hong Kong is the Smith & Wesson Model 10, the 38 calibre pistol carried by each beat police officer. The 35-ounce gun has been made in the United States since 1899 and is used by law enforcers around the world. It can hold six rounds.
In Hong Kong, a licence from the police commissioner is needed to legally possess arms or ammunition. Possessing a firearm without a licence can lead to up to 14 years in prison and a fine of HK$100,000.
On an RTHK programme on Wednesday, Democratic Party lawmaker James To Kun-sun, vice-chairman of the Legislative Council’s security panel, said police should investigate where the suspect got the gun and look into potential loopholes in the gun control system.
To said companies offering only bodyguard services normally could not obtain licences to carry guns and ammunition, unlike those offering services to escort the transportation of cash or jewellery.
He added that Hong Kong’s gun control laws were so strict that private gun clubs found it difficult to recruit, and said it was “next to impossible” to carry guns out of such clubs because the number of firearms would be checked every day.
“In my 20-plus years being a lawmaker, I’ve never seen such a case. There was one suspected case but eventually it turned out not so,” To said.
In May, security minister John Lee Ka-chiu told Legco that the total number of air smuggling cases detected by the local customs authority, including cases through cargo, packages and travellers, surged from 4,141 in 2013 to 7,786 in 2017.
About 70 of the cases involved firearms, ammunition and weapons last year, compared with 68 in 2016, 76 in 2015 and 99 in 2014.
Citing the World Customs Organisation’s global counterterrorism strategy, the Security Bureau said the main mode of illicit trafficking for small arms and light weapons was express courier and mail services.
Additional reporting by Danny Mok and Veta Chan