Footage from China Central Television (CCTV) showed Zhang Lidong, one of the six suspects detained for alledgely killing a woman in East China's Shandong province. [Photo/CCTV]
Six suspects detained for intentional homicide in East China's Shandong province are members of a heretic sect, local police announced on Saturday.
The victim, surnamed Wu, was beaten to death on Wednesday night at a McDonald's outlet in Zhaoyuan city after she refused to give her telephone number to the suspects, who were allegedly trying to recruit new members for their sect, according to a statement from the local police authority.
Local police arrived at the scene at 9:23 pm on Wednesday, four minutes after they were tipped off, and captured the six suspects in the act.
The victim was rushed to the hospital but died at 9:48 pm, according to the police.
All six suspects are members of the heretic sect Quannengshen, which means "almighty god," according to the statement, and books and other materials from the sect have been found at their residence.
The suspects include a man named Zhang Lidong, his two daughters and a son, as well as two women surnamed Zhang and Lyu, according to the statement.
With the exception of Zhang's son, who is under the age of criminal responsibility and will be dealt with separately, the other five suspects, who are all jobless, have been put under criminal detention for suspected intentional homicide, police said.
Zhang Lidong confessed to the police that his elder daughter joined the cult in 2005 and since then started to persuade other family members to join.
Zhang said he once was a businessman. On Wednesday night, he drove a luxury Porsche Cayenne to the McDonald's outlet.
"She (the victim) is an evil and so we sought to beat her to death," said Zhang in an interview with the China Central Television, the state broadcaster.
Police said the Quannengshen conducted illegal activities and its doctrine, which are distortions of those of other religions, orders cult members to fully obey its leaders and does not tolerate quitting.
"The incident highlighted the cult nature of the Quannengshen," said Wang Shuli, an expert on religious issues and also a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.
"Cults are not religions and they are anti-religion and anti-human," said Wang.
Wang suggested that the authorities expose the cult nature and launch a harsh crackdown.
Local provincial police authorities vowed to severely punish illegal activities of heretic sects to protect the safety of people's lives and property.
The McDonald's outlet said in a statement that they felt very sorry for the incident and expressed deep sorrow for the victim and concerns for its staff who got injured while attempting to stop the violence.
"When the incident happened, the restaurant called the police and has handed the surveillance tape to the police for investigation," it said.
The cruel beating to death and failure of any onlookers to stop the violence have sparked public outrage on major social media platforms in China.