Students, alumni rally after police use live round on teen

October 02, 2019 15:57
Students and alumni from Tsuen Wan Public Ho Chuen Yiu Memorial College gather on Wednesday to stand in support of a fellow student who was shot by police during a clash the previous day. Photo: HKEJ

Students and alumni of a secondary school in Tsuen Wan staged a sit-in on Wednesday after a pupil from their institution was shot by a police officer with live ammunition during anti-government protests the previous day.

Expressing outrage at the point-blank shooting, which left a form five student with a severe wound to his chest, several hundred students and alumni from Tsuen Wan Public Ho Chuen Yiu Memorial College gathered together to voice their support for the injured young man and condemn the perceived police brutality.

The sit-in saw a few students from other schools also join in, praying for the recovery of the 18-year-old, whose condition is now said to be stable after he received emergency surgery.

According to the Hospital Authority, 104 people were injured overall in the Hong Kong violence on Tuesday, with two still in critical condition, after protesters fought pitched battles with the police in multiple locations.

The Tsuen Wan secondary school’s principal, Tse Yun-ming, said on Wednesday that he and two vice-principals had visited the hospital the previous day.

They were unable to see the student as he was undergoing an operation, but managed to speak to his family, Tse said, adding that school authorities will try again later to visit the student.

When asked whether police’s use of force was appropriate, Tse said he needs more time to understand the incident.

Meanwhile, he added that the school will offer full support to the injured student and his family.

Tse did not directly respond when asked if he would condemn the police action, but said that what is important now is to channel and manage students’ emotions.

Social workers and psychologists have been arranged to counsel emotionally disturbed students, the principal said.

The school issued a press release on Wednesday, saying its staff and students are “deeply saddened” by the shooting incident. “We are concerned, first and foremost over the well-being of our student.”

The school has "set up a Crisis Management Committee to provide pastoral care to those affected," the release said, adding that "officials from the Education Bureau and social workers are also on hand to provide emotional support to both staff and students.”

“Full support and assistance will be provided to the student and his family during this time. We wish the affected student a speedy recovery,” the school said.

Speaking to media late Tuesday night, Police Commissioner Stephen Lo Wai-chung defended the policeman who fired his weapon, saying the officer was left with no choice under the circumstances.

“He issued a warning to no avail, and with no other option available, used his weapon”, Lo said, adding that the officer’s response was “reasonable” and “legal”.

Tuesday's incident, which marked the first known instance of a protester being shot with a real bullet by police during the ongoing extradition bill-related demonstrations, took place sometime after 4 pm.

The shot was fired after more than 10 protesters assaulted anti-riot police officers outside a building on Tai Ho Road in Tsuen Wan, one of the multiple districts in Hong Kong that saw a large number of protesters clash with police during the anti-government protests in the city.

Video footage from Campus TV of the Hong Kong University Students' Union showed one of the officers was pushed to the ground before a black-clad young protester wielded a metal rod and attempted to hit the officer’s right hand.

Instead of using the rifle in his left hand, the officer was seen pulling out a pistol with his right hand. The officer shot the protester in the left chest at a close range, right after the protester hit the officer’s right hand with the rod.

The victim, who fell onto the ground immediately and was in a conscious state, was rushed to Princess Margaret Hospital before being transferred to Queen Elizabeth Hospital for surgery.

According to a medical source, the bullet went through the young man’s left lung but narrowly missed the heart, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

After a surgery that removed the bullet, his condition turned stable from critical and there was no immediate life-threatening danger.

Six live round shots were fired by police in four places in Tsuen Wan, Yau Ma Tei and Wong Tai Sin on Tuesday, Lo said.

As per his information, 25 officers were injured in the multi-district clashes on Tuesday, Lo said.

More than 180 people were arrested for offences including rioting, unlawful assembly, assaulting police and possession of offensive weapons.

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TL/JC/RC