Police in Guangdong province have offered a 100,000 yuan ($15,000) reward for information leading to the arrest of a man believed to be involved in a rare case of gun violence in China.
On Tuesday evening, three people were killed and six more injured in the southern city of Chaozhou, local police confirmed in a statement posted to their Weibo microblog account the following day. Two died at the crime scene; one died later at the hospital.
Police have identified 40-year-old Lin Zhonghong as the suspected shooter. They have released his ID number and photograph and are now urging the public to come forward with information about his whereabouts.
A 70-second video obtained by The Beijing News depicts a grim scene: people lying motionless in the street, surrounded by pools of blood, as passersby gather and stare.
Chinese law prohibits civilians from possessing firearms — a crime punishable by up to seven years in prison — unless they have a hunting license.
Family members of two of the victims told Beijing Youth Daily they believe the case could have to do with gambling. One of the slain, Lin Hui, owned an underground gambling hall in the city and had received a call from the suspect earlier that evening. Witnesses to the conversation said that while the two men did not argue, Lin Hui spoke in a menacing tone to Lin Zhonghong.
A resident who lives in the neighborhood where the shooting took place described the area as a hot spot for gambling and confirmed that the shooting suspect was a known patron of Lin Hui’s establishment.
Despite being illegal in China, gambling is still a popular pastime, especially among men in rural areas — so much so that addiction centers have been popping up to help. Media, too, has drawn more attention to the issue in recent years. In March, a police officer in northern China was sentenced to death for murdering a colleague in an apparent gambling-related feud. And in July, the former vice president of a social media platform was arrested for reportedly organizing illicit poker games catering to celebrities and high rollers.
Police are currently investigating the incident in Chaozhou. According to the most recent statistics available, gun violence in China decreased from nearly 5,000 cases in the year 2000 to just over 500 in 2011.
Contributions: Lin Qiqing; editor: David Paulk.
(Header image: E+/VCG)