SCMP Thursday, March 15, 2001

Officer lured to his death


A full-scale search was under way last night for the killer of a young constable shot dead with his own revolver after being lured to a public housing estate by what is believed to have been a bogus call to police.
Constable Leung Shing-yan, 23, who was engaged to be married in May to his long-standing girlfriend, was shot four times, once in the back of the head. His service revolver and 12 rounds of ammunition were missing when he was found. Police last night confirmed he had been killed by shots fired from the gun.
He is the first policeman to have been murdered on duty in Hong Kong since 1994. Police Commissioner Tsang Yam-pui pledged last night the force would do everything in its power to bring the killer to justice.
Leung had been a police officer for four years and was attached to Lei Muk Shue police station in Tsuen Wan.
He had been sent to a fifth-floor flat at Shek To House, Shek Wai Kok Estate, in Tsuen Wan, after an unknown man made a call to Lei Muk Shue at 12.05pm complaining about noise from the occupants.
The officer's last radio call came at 12.25pm, saying he had arrived alone on the fifth floor and no one had responded to his knocks at the flat door. Within minutes, he was found lying in the corridor outside the flat by residents, said Assistant Tsuen Wan District Commander (crime) Superintendent Cheung Koon-wah.
"He suffered four gunshot wounds; in the back of his head, left back, his left eyebrow and left arm," Mr Cheung said. There were also cuts on the dead officer's neck.
It is understood Leung had only recently been switched to day-shifts and had just finished lunch when he responded to the call. His partner was still having lunch, so Leung went alone.
Armed police officers went to the scene and paramedics wearing bullet-proof vests took the constable to an ambulance under guard. Leung was taken to Yan Chai Hospital where he was declared dead on arrival. There was no one in the flat he had been called to when officers checked it.
Tension remained high on the estate throughout the afternoon as heavily armed officers went to the scene and sealed off the 21-storey building. Residents were ordered to stay indoors and those who wanted to leave, including elderly people, were stopped and searched by armed officers.
About 30 pupils were forced to stay at Shek Wai Kok Primary School on the estate because their parents were unable to leave Shek To House as about 100 officers carried out a search. The children eventually returned at about 7pm.
At about 4pm, a man was arrested in the building but officers later confirmed this was not linked to the case.
Mr Cheung said police were unable to locate the man who called them. He had used a mobile phone which was unregistered and rang Lei Muk Shue police station directly rather than an emergency number.
Any officer patrolling in the area at the time could have been sent to the address in response to the call, police sources said.
Mr Cheung said: "We can't rule out any possibilities. There might be a trap that someone made a fabricated complaint about noise there. When the officer reached the location, it is possible the culprit snatched his revolver and rounds of ammunition and opened fire on him. Members of the public should be alerted that whoever did this is still at large."
Asked if it was appropriate that Leung was sent to the scene alone, Mr Cheung said: "The complaint about noise was not a serious case and Leung's superior believed he could handle it alone. So he was dispatched to the scene. It was acceptable."
Resident Cheung Kwok-shing, 54, living in an eighth-floor flat, said he heard several loud bangs when he was cooking at about 12.15pm. "At first, I thought it was the sound of firecracker. I realised there was a gunshot when I went out to pick up my daughter and saw many policemen out there," he said.
Police chief Tsang Yam-pui said last night he was deeply saddened by the death. He pledged that the force would spare no effort in bringing whoever was responsible to justice.
Secretary for the Civil Service Joseph Wong Wing-ping said: "I am shocked by the news and I am sure the police will try their best to arrest the assailants. Such an act of violence cannot be tolerated . . . On behalf of the civil service, I would like to send my deepest condolences to his family."
Leung was his family's eldest son and is survived by his parents and a younger brother and sister. He lived with his family at Sau Shan House in Cheung Shan Estate in Tsuen Wan. His father is a retired print worker.

No one had been arrested by last night.