Manhunt Ends as Chinese Police Gun Down Serial Killer – China Real Time Report – WSJ
A four-day manhunt involving thousands of policemen and soldiers came to an end Tuesday when one of China’s most wanted serial killers was gunned down Tuesday morning in the southwestern city of Chongqing.
The news prompted expressions of relief online, but also gave rise to questions about the way authorities handled the case.
Zhou Kehua, described by police as “ruthless and highly dangerous,” was wanted in connection to multiple crimes dating to 2004 involving the deaths of nine people and injuries of another five, according to state media. He was the chief suspect in a fatal armed robbery in Chongqing on Friday and also allegedly shot a police officer who tried to stop and question him over the weekend.
Zhou was killed in a leather factory in Chongqing’s Shapingba district around 6:50am on Tuesday after being spotted by undercover police, the state-run China Daily reported. The two sides exchanged fire, and Zhou was eventually shot dead, the paper said citing the Chongqing Morning News.
A series of graphic images posted widely on state-run media websites and elsewhere(warning: images are disturbing) showed Zhou lying face down next to a brick wall, blood appearing to gush from a wound in his head.
Local media reports speculated on Monday the chances of Zhou surviving his capture were low, saying he was likely to respond to the manhunt with force.
Many users on Sina Corp.’s Weibo microblogging service applauded the efforts of the police.
“If he wasn’t killed, it wouldn’t appease the public anger, Chongqing police did well!”declared one user of Sina Corp.’s Weibo microblogging service.
In a report detailing events leading up to Tuesday morning, China’s state broadcaster said police were aware Zhou had been hiding in the city after spotting him in footage from a store surveillance camera on Saturday. A much-publicized manhunt in the mountains on the outskirts of Chognqing over the past few days was a ruse meant to fool Zhou into thinking he was safe, the report said.
Not everyone lauded the operation. Some social media users, for example, questioned whether police were handling evidence properly after a photo was published showing an unidentified man rifling through Zhou’s belongings without wearing gloves. Others, meanwhile, cast doubt on the police version of events.
“Reports stated he was shot during a firefight with the police, but from the pictures you can’t tell he tried pulling out a gun,” one reader wrote on the Phoenix TV website, noting that photos showed Zhou’s guns laying at a remove from his body.
Still others lamented that he hadn’t be captured instead of killed.
“It would have been more perfect to capture him alive. That way we could have found out how he was able to evade the police for so many years,” wrote another Phoenix reader.
Still, the overwhelming sentiment was one of relief. “A figure like Zhou Kehua causes panic,” wrote one Weibo user posting under the hashtag #ZhouKehuaShotDead#. “Society needs the stability.”
– Sandra Hu. Follow her on Twitter @SandwaHu