A knife-wielding gatekeeper at a Beijing kindergarten slashed 15
young children Wednesday morning, killing one child and injuring
three teachers before he was subdued by police, authorities
One of the children and a teacher sustained serious head and
neck wounds and were still in critical condition at press time,
The other victims are in stable condition.
The incident occurred at about 9:30 AM when the kids were
playing in the kindergarten schoolyard.
The school's cook told officials she heard children screaming
and rushed outside, where she saw the gatekeeper slashing at
children with a kitchen knife.
Kindergarten children are normally aged 3 to 6, but some younger
children were at the facility.
An iron door had apparently been locked by the gatekeeper before
the attack and the children had no escape route.
In an effort to protect the children -- four teachers, including
the kindergarten's leader -- fought to try to wrest the knife from
Two police vehicles and eight police officers rushed to the
kindergarten of the No. 1 Hospital Affiliated with Peking
University in downtown Beijing after the incident was reported and
quickly overpowered the man.
"It was a miserable scene," said Wang Bin, director of the
hospital's security department. "There was fresh blood everywhere,
on the faces of the children, on the white working clothes of the
teachers and on the floor."
A total of 23 children and five staff were in the kindergarten
on Wednesday. Fifteen children and three teachers were stabbed.
Eight children, the head of the kindergarten and the school's
cook emerged unscathed.
The kindergarten normally has 40 children in attendance, but
some of them stayed at home because of summer vacation.
Suspect in custody
Xu Heping, 52, a Beijing native, has been working as a temporary
gatekeeper for two years in the kindergarten and had never shown
any sign of any mental disorder, according to school staffers.
"Nothing was abnormal this morning," said Wang, citing the
account of the head of the kindergarten.
Xu delivered the newspaper to the school head's office as he
does every morning shortly before the stabbing and even asked her
if anything else he could do.
However, a milk delivery man surnamed Yuan said Xu looked very
unhappy when Yuan delivered the milk to the kindergarten Wednesday
morning, according to China News Service.
He said the door was locked, which was quite unusual, and Xu
didn't answer the door for quite a long time.
A witness identified as Chang said the attacker said "I can't
move now" after he was subdued by officers. Chang said he was
surprised that the injured children -- likely still in shock --
were not crying when the doctors and police were readying them for
transport to hospital.
According to Chang, the suspect Xu's clothes still appeared
clean and he did not appear nervous at all.
A preliminary investigation by Beijing police indicated Xu had
received medical treatment for four months in 1999 at Beijing
Anding Hospital, a psychiatric hospital. Doctors at the hospital
confirmed that Xu was diagnosed as a schizophrenic.
Suspect feared job loss?
Police Wednesday would not reveal whether the suspect revealed
any motive, and said the incident remains under investigation.
Officials revealed the kindergarten is set to close in early
September, and some people said they believed that Xu, a temporary
hire, may have been upset because of uncertainties about his
The injured were taken to the No. 1 Hospital Affiliated with
Peking University. Most of the young victims have head and neck
wounds, doctors said. The most seriously wounded were attended to
first, with doctors unable to comment, saying they were too busy to
tending to the wounded. Thirteen of the 15 young victims are
children of hospital staffers.
"Two doctors burst into tears and ran out of the room
immediately when were told the news," a witness in her 50s said.
Parents were gathering at the fourth floor of the building of the
mother's and infant's section of the hospital, weeping.
"Because of the profession, doctors can't stay at home and take
care of the children during the summer vacation," said one
physician, who declined to give her name. "My parents have been
visiting me for several days and babysitting my child. Otherwise,
my kid would have been in the kindergarten, too."
Another doctor said he was blessed since his child was among the
eight uninjured students.
Other patients were also shocked to hear the news. "It is so
scary and horrible," said Li, in his 30s, who had brought in his
4-year-old to see the doctor Wednesday. He said he can't imagine
victims his daughter's age.
"(The attacker) must be a maniac. A rational person would never
attack young kids," he said.
"We should not have to lose one more child to the dangers of
untreated mental illness," a taxi driver said. "Organizations have
to study thoroughly the profiles of the employees to prevent future
(China Daily August 5, 2004)