Hong Kong police were shot at with a live round in Tai Po on Friday night by an armed suspect they were investigating after the recent seizure of bombs and firearms linked to anti-government protests - and ended up firing tear gas at an angry crowd who confronted them.
Police said that when officers intercepted the 19-year-old suspect at the Jade Plaza residential estate just after 9:20pm, he pulled out a semi-automatic pistol from his waist and fired one round at them. The bullet did not hit anyone.
After they arrested him, they raided a flat at the estate where they seized an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle with 211 rounds of ammunition - 61 rounds in a speed loader and the rest in five magazines.
Senior superintendent Steve Li Kwai-wah from the Organised Crime and Triad Bureau said 44 hollow-point rounds for the gun the suspect used were collected from the crime scene and the flat they raided. A shell from the gun was also picked up at the scene of the shooting.
"The firearms and ammunition found match the intelligence we collected, which is about someone planning to use guns in public assemblies to hurt people," Li said.
He said the pistol and ammunition seized on Friday night were of the same make as those found during an earlier raid in a North Point flat.
The arrested man was identified as a suspect arrested last December for illegal possession of firearms. He had been in custody until February 28 when he was released on bail. Police said he had breached bail conditions earlier this month.
The drama on Friday night was wrongly reported earlier as a failed robbery attempt.
Riot police arrived at the scene soon after the incident to provide support for the officers who were escorting the hooded and handcuffed suspect when they were confronted by an angry crowd.
Objects were thrown at officers from above.
Police initially raised a warning flag, then fired tear gas at the crowd at around 11pm. They fired another round almost an hour later in an attempt to disperse a crowd that lingered near the scene.
Commissioner of Police Chris Tang Ping-keung also visited the site after midnight, and stayed for about 10 minutes.