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Crime in Hong Kong

Blade-wielding Hong Kong man in critical condition after being shot by policewoman

  • Suspect took cutter out of bag after being stopped by officers
  • He was rushed to Princess Margaret Hospital for treatment
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 07 November, 2018, 8:39am
UPDATED : Thursday, 08 November, 2018, 12:14am

A Hong Kong policewoman shot a man in the abdomen after he tried to attack her and a colleague with a cutter in Sham Shui Po MTR station, police said on Wednesday morning.

The 55-year-old builder, a Hong Kong ID card holder, was in critical condition after being rushed to Princess Margaret Hospital for treatment. He had been arrested.

According to police, two officers from the Police Tactical Unit were on anti-vice patrol and conducting a stop-and-search operation in the station at 7.40am.

They stopped the man near exit D2 inside the station, as he appeared suspicious. During questioning, the officers saw him take a 15cm cutter from a backpack, which he was carrying in front of him.

“He waved the weapon and attempted to attack the pair. The officers issued a verbal warning, but in vain. The man still attempted to attack the female officer,” said Chow Ngai-kong, divisional commander in Sham Shui Po.

“With her life under threat, the female officer shot one round at the man and subdued him.”

The Post understands the arrested man was earlier jailed for seven days, for attacking a police officer in 2013.

The policewoman, surnamed Yuen and a six-year veteran of the force, needed to undergo psychological consultation after the incident, as standard procedure.

Chow said there were strict guidelines concerning the use of firearms and officers were well trained, adding: “Before she fired the shot, she had assessed the situation and was confident she could hit the suspect.”

The force would look into whether Yuen followed police guidelines and related regulations.

A shopkeeper at Sham Shui Po station said she heard a bang at about 7.40am, but declined to describe what happened next.

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Other shopkeepers said they had never seen such a chaotic situation at the station.

“I was not here when it happened, but I have been working here for about a year and I have never seen anything like it. It’s a safe place here,” a female shopkeeper said.

Legislative Council security panel chairman Chan Hak-kan said he was concerned about the possibility of people inside a crowded MTR station being hurt by a stray bullet. But he said it was necessary for the officer to open fire, as her life had been threatened.

“I believe the police will conduct an internal review ... if the officer did not perform well, there may be disciplinary action,” Chan said.

A senior police insider, who joined the force before 1995, said it was rare for a female officer to pull a gun to subdue a suspect. “It is the first time [a policewoman has opened fire], in my impression,” the source said.

The force does not keep official records of how many female officers open fire at crime scenes. But armed women on the beat have until recent decades been rare.

The force only started recruiting women in 1949, more than 100 years after its formation. Female officers were not required to attend mandatory firearms training until 1995, when they were armed in the same way as their male colleagues.

As of last year, there were 4,700 women police officers, accounting for 16.2 per cent of the 29,000-strong force, compared with 9.5 per cent in 1990. Winnie Chiu Wai-yin became the first female deputy chief of police in July 2017.

Wednesday’s shooting was the third incident in less than four months in which a police officer opened fire.

On August 30 a police sergeant from the Emergency Unit fired a shot while trying to stop a car being driven at him during a chase at Lam Kam Road Interchange in Fanling.

And on July 31 a suspected triad member was wounded when a policeman fired two shots at a car being driven at him and during a sting operation in Tuen Mun.

According to the Police General Orders, officers are allowed to discharge a firearm under three circumstances: to protect any person, including themselves, from death or serious injury; to bring about the arrest of any person who has just committed a serious or violent crime; or to quell a riot or insurrection.

Additional reporting by Phila Siu and Sum Lok-kei