Date
20 January 2017
The 52-year-old man had just completed 19 years of service at the Customs and Excise Department on Tuesday. Photo: Google Maps
The 52-year-old man had just completed 19 years of service at the Customs and Excise Department on Tuesday. Photo: Google Maps

Customs officer kills self with service revolver at airport

A customs official was found dead with a gunshot wound to his head at the Hong Kong International Airport on Tuesday afternoon.

Police said the 52-year-old man, surnamed Chan, was an apparent suicide, Apple Daily reports.

Customs officers said a few minutes after 12 p.m. they heard a bang from a changing room at the Cathay Pacific air cargo terminal.

They rushed to the scene and found Chan lying unconscious on the floor with blood coming from his head.

Police officers arrived and paramedics pronounced Chan dead on the spot.

A gunshot wound was seen in Chan’s left temple, and a .38 caliber revolver that belonged to him was found beside the body. Chan left no suicide note.

Colleagues said he was left-handed.

Police believe Chan had killed himself after a review of the video footage from security cameras showed that he had stayed in the changing room for about an hour before the shot rang out, and no suspicious-looking person was seen coming in or going out of the room during the period.

There was also no sign of struggle at the scene.

Chan, who was single, had just completed 19 years of service at the Customs and Excise Department on Tuesday. He had planned to retire in three years.

Police were still investigating possible motives. Some colleagues suggested financial troubles while others said he had not been promoted for years.

Chan’s apparent suicide using an official gun was the third of its kind in the past month, highlighting the pressure faced by members of the government’s disciplined services.

Paul Yip Siu-fai, director of the Center for Suicide Research and Prevention and a professor at the Department of Social Work and Social Administration of the University of Hong Kong, said some officers tend to keep problems to themselves and feel embarrassed to seek professional help, but such an attitude can only make their situation worse.

Officers facing emotional stress should speak out and seek help, while supervisors must take the initiative to care more for their subordinates, Yip said.

EJ Insight supports efforts to help people deal with depression and related issues. Here is the 24-hour multilingual suicide prevention hotline of The Samaritans: +852 2896 0000 (or email [email protected]).

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TL/AC/CG

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