Police release details on children's attacker

Updated: 2012-12-19 08:07

By Xinhua in Zhengzhou (China Daily)

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Police release details on children's attacker

Knife wielder's assault influenced by preacher's 'doomsday' prophecies

Police in Henan province on Tuesday gave a detailed account of how the confessed knifeman Min Yongjun had been driven by "doomsday" rumors to carry out a frenzied attack on children.

Twenty-three elementary-school children and an elderly woman were wounded in the attack last week. None of them is in critical condition.

Ouyang Mingxing, deputy director of the Guangshan county bureau of public security, said Min, 36, confessed during police inquiries that he believed "he was doomed and hoped to do things to make the world remember him before he died."

Police quoted Min's testimony, in which he said he had watched reports about a kindergarten killing on television two years ago and realized that such attacks could draw attention.

He was referring to three kindergarten attacks between April and May of 2010 in Jiangsu, Shandong and Shaanxi provinces. In the Shaanxi case, seven children and two women were killed by a lone assailant armed with a kitchen cleaver.

The police officer said the night before the Friday stabbing spree, Min had beaten up his parents and his two daughters, aged 9 and 2, and run out of the house. He said he was angry because his father had grounded him for several days after he had an epileptic seizure.

He wandered around in the cold and dark, feeling as if he had been "abandoned by the world". At dawn, the exhausted Min knocked on the door of an elderly woman's house.

He then broke into the house and used a kitchen knife to slash the woman twice before storming into the nearby Chenpeng Village Elementary School around 7 am, when children were carrying out cleaning and preparation work.

According to a surveillance tape provided by the school, no security staff or teachers came to stop Min while he hacked his way to the third floor of the building.

Ouyang said Min had intended to throw a child out of a window, but abandoned the idea after seeing children drenched in blood downstairs, which caused him to think of his own children.

"Those second thoughts, which he talked about in the testimony, suggested the epileptic was fully conscious and able to control himself at the time of the crime," Ouyang said.

Min told police he had listened to "doomsday" preaching delivered by a local woman named Jin Guozhu.

Jin now is on the run. Police said they have seized more than 70 "doomsday" brochures from her house.

Police did not go into details about the brochures, but said the 61-year-old woman was spreading rumors that "the end of the world is coming, and certain divine spirits are going to rule Earth."

Wu Boxin, professor with the Chinese People's Public Security University, said Min might have been brainwashed by a cult called Dongfang Shandian (Oriental Lightening), which has gained influence in central Henan regions.

Dec 21 marks the conclusion of the 5,125-year-long Mayan calendar, a date associated with the apocalypse. Many cults have taken that fact as a pretext for spreading "doomsday" rumors.

Chinese police have detained 101 cult members who have spread the rumors and disturbed the social order.

The Guangshan county government declined media interviews and prevented reporters from speaking to people at the school and at hospitals treating the injured.

Wang Zhixue, governor of Guangshan county, on Monday told the People's Daily that authorities intended to prevent information about the school attack from spreading as the incident involved "minors", and copycat crimes could follow once it was widely reported.

However, Xinhua reporters covering the event at the site observed that several government officials were indifferent to the attack, and government staff did not provide immediate help and consolation to the victims' families.

The government's lack of transparency in handling the event has incurred national condemnation.

Under pressure, the government of Xinyang city, which administers Guangshan, removed six people from their posts on Tuesday for "improper handling" of the attack. Those fired were two school principals, two police officers, a township safety official and a county education department director.

The village school resumed classes on Monday, and required students' guardians to take them out for lunch before sending them back for afternoon courses.

The safety measures, however, have been a significant inconvenience for students' families.

A government-sponsored donation had helped accumulate 50,000 yuan ($8,020) for the victims' families by Monday.

The government has also asked local schools to add security guards, armed with metal batons and tear gas.

(China Daily 12/19/2012 page4)