Chopper-wielding drug suspect nabbed after 13-hour stand-off

PHOTO: The New Paper, Lianhe Wanbao

For 13 hours from Thursday night, Block 508 in Ang Mo Kio Avenue 8 was the stage for high drama.

Madam Chua Tian Choo was trapped in her bedroom by her chopper-wielding son, who was threatening to burn himself in their two-room flat on the eighth floor, in a stand-off with narcotics officers who were there to arrest the suspected drug offender.

Elite police units armed with tactical gear were called in, civil defence officers set up an air bag and safety net outside the block, and about 50 residents from the seventh to ninth floors were evacuated in case of a gas explosion.

The drama ended only after the police were able to force their way into the flat at about 10am yesterday, arresting the 48-year-old tattooed suspect who was led out shirtless and with blood trailing down a leg. It was only then that the tired residents who spent the night at the void deck and a nearby community club were allowed to return to their homes.

Madam Chua, 70, told The Straits Times that the incident had left her feeling dizzy, but insisted her son, the elder of two - both of whom are no strangers to prison - never harmed or threatened her.

"It's over, I'm happy," she said in Mandarin.

The incident was sparked when Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) officers knocked on the door of her flat at about 9pm on Thursday, looking for her son as part of their investigations into a suspected drug trafficking syndicate.

CNB said he refused to open the door. Instead, he threatened to burn himself. The man was also seen holding a chopper.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force was called in, along with the police's Special Operations Command and negotiators.

The spectacle caught the attention of residents at a nearby Meet- the-People Session that was being held by Mr Ang Hin Kee, the MP for the area, and they began helping those who had to be evacuated.

"We opened up air-conditioned rooms at the neighbouring community club, and brought in blankets and comfortable chairs for the elderly and very young to get some sleep," said Mr Ang.

The police managed to force their way into the flat after cutting through the gate.

A small amount of "Ice" and heroin were found, CNB said.

Preliminary tests showed that the suspect had taken drugs. Three knives, including a chopper, were also found.

When The Straits Times visited the flat, two gas canisters could be seen in the living room.

Neighbours said the family had been living there for about eight years, and the suspect could often be heard yelling or seen talking to himself.

Mr Ang said he recognised the man. "About two months ago, he came to us for financial assistance, and we gave. We helped with food as well. He said he was unemployed," he said.

Madam Junidah Sadham, a 50-year-old housewife, was among those who had to be evacuated along with her husband, niece and granddaughter. She ended up at the void deck but could hardly get any sleep because of the ongoing drama.

"We were worried about what was happening and how long it would take. Luckily, no one was hurt," she said.

This article was first published on April 2, 2016.
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