Elderly Hong Kong man ‘kills neighbour, starts fire and jumps from window’
Police believe Chu Kwok-ying, 68, set victim’s room ablaze before jumping to his own death from Sham Shui Po tenement block’s top-floor window
Hong Kong police were twice called out to a dispute over money just hours before an elderly man was believed to have killed his neighbour with a hammer and a knife, before setting the victim’s room alight and jumping to his death from a window on Monday night.
The apparent murder-suicide came to light at 11.53pm as the subdivided cubicle burst into flames in the top-floor flat of a six-storey tenement block on Tai Nan Street in Sham Shui Po.
Chu Kwok-ying, 68, was found lying unconscious outside the building. Zhou Guanyu, a 59-year-old builder, was found unconscious in Chu’s subdivided cubicle. Paramedics certified him dead at the scene.
Chu – who was unemployed – was taken to Kwong Wah Hospital in Yau Ma Tei, where he was pronounced dead at 12.11am on Tuesday.
Police said officers, who believe the pair argued over utility bills at the flat, which was divided into five small cubicles, were initially called by the female owner, who had failed to collect rent from Chu.
According to police the 55-year-old first called them at 12.09pm, and again at 3.59pm. A police spokesman said officers left after the dispute was settled and no arrests were made.
A police source said Chu was believed to have killed Zhou in his own room, and then set Zhou’s cubicle alight before jumping from the window.
“Initial examination showed [Zhou] suffered multiple head injuries and sustained stab wounds in the back,” the source said.
A hammer was found at the scene, covered in blood.
“Initial investigation showed Chu had been accused of wasting water, and had disputes with the victim over water bills on different occasions over the past few months,” the source added.
Zhou lived with his wife, who was in mainland China on Monday night. It was understood he and Chu – both Hong Kong ID card holders – had to share the water bills at the flat, which was also home to a woman in her 80s, who was asleep at the time of the incident. The female owner did not live there.
The wife, who returned to the city on Tuesday morning, said the water bill in the past had been about HK$80 per quarter. She added that the bill had risen to HK$1,000, and her husband had lodged a complaint with the owner in February or March.
The source said crime squad officers were investigating whether Zhou was killed in the middle of the argument.
Eight fire engines and three ambulances were sent to the scene, carrying about 50 firefighters and paramedics, according to the fire service.
Its spokeswoman said 10 residents were evacuated from the building. One complained of feeling unwell after inhaling smoke. She was treated at Caritas Medical Centre.
Chief Inspector Kelvin Chong Kiu-wai of the Sham Shui Po district crime squad said a postmortem examination would be carried out to establish the cause of Zhou’s death.