Air gun toting man arrested in Taipei MRT

Air gun toting man arrested in Taipei MRT
A police officer stands guard at the Jiangzicui Station of the Taipei Metro in Taipei on May 22, 2014. Currently the NPA has stationed extra police officers in every MRT station.

TAIPEI, Taiwan - A 32-year-old man dressed in camouflage, wearing a helmet and a gas mask, carrying three fake grenades and one airsoft gun was arrested in the Taipei Metro yesterday afternoon.

The man took an MRT train on the Bannan Line at around 5 pm, and got off the train at Taipei Main Station. Police officers in the MRT station immediately arrested the man and took him to the Zhongzheng First Precinct for questioning.

Taipei police said the man claimed that he was on the way to attend a war game held near Jiantan Station.

Apart from the 32-year-old man, the Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) yesterday in New Taipei City arrested a 19-year-old suspect, surnamed Hsiao, who on his Facebook profile posted a picture of 10 knives and said he will bring the knives with him to the MRT.

The CIB and New Taipei police officers yesterday afternoon raided Hsiao's residence and discovered three Japanese swords, six wooden knives and one made of plastic.

The bureau said Hsiao claimed that he simply thought it was "fun" to post his comment and the picture of the knives. Hsiao claimed that he has no intention of harming anyone, the CIB said.

The CIB later transferred Hsiao to the Taipei District Prosecutors' Office for further questioning.

National Police Agency (NPA) Director-General Wang Cho-chiun yesterday said that following the Taipei Metro stabbing incident last week, there have been over 15 alleged would-be copycats making similar threats on the Internet.

Cheng Chieh, a 21-year-old college student, on May 18 boarded a Taipei Metro train and went on a stabbing spree, leading to four deaths and 23 injured.

During an interpellation session at the Legislative Yuan yesterday, Wang said that after the incident the NPA immediately notified all law enforcement units to pay extra attention to any similar threats.

Wang said the police officers have arrested 17 suspects who allegedly made threats to public safety between May 18 and May 25, and they have transferred them to district prosecutors' offices for further investigation, in accordance with Criminal Code Article 151.

Wang noted that, nevertheless, as far as the NPA knows, the number of would-be copycat killers is shrinking.

Currently the NPA has stationed extra police officers in every MRT station, Wang said, noting that his agency will re-evaluate the demand for police officers in MRT stations after two weeks.

Wang said Cheng Chieh is not a hero, urging people not to make similar threats endangering public safety under any circumstances.

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