He was part of a five-man police team involved in an operation against motorcycle thefts and robberies. The group led by Inspector Zainal Mohyan arrived at the scene after receiving information that three people, aged 17 to 23 years, were trying to steal scrap metal from a factory in Malacca, Malaysia.
The trio were arrested, but a 17-year-old teenager, high on drugs, broke free and fled on foot at about 8am on Monday. Corporal Zal-Azri Abd Somad then gave chase, The Star reported.
When Cpl Zal-Azri, 31, did not return after some time, his colleagues went looking for him.
They were stunned to find him lying in a pool of blood inside a drain in front of the factory. He is believed to have been hit several times on the head with a stone. He died on the spot, Malacca Police Chief Deputy Commissioner Chuah Ghee Lye said.
The suspect, who is unemployed, was recaptured high on drugs after more than two hours, the report said.
Mr Chuah said that Cpl Zal-Azri, from Penang, had served the force for 10 years and was a dedicated person committed to his job.
The corporal's widow Atiqah Mohd Rosi, 29, was inconsolable when she was told the news. She was seen sobbing with her sons - a four-year-old and a five-month-old - at the Malacca Hospital mortuary, where her husband's body was taken to.
The atmosphere turned even more sombre when Malacca CID Chief Assistant Commissioner Raja Sharom Raja Abdullah and his deputy Superintendent P.R. Gunarajan handed over her husband's police identity card.
"Why should this happen to me?" she was heard crying out as relatives, too, tried to console her.
Cpl Zal-Azri's cousin Ms Hartini Rashid, 27, said Ms Atiqah was distraught over the death, adding that she could not accept that her husband was gone.
"We can't accept that his transfer to Malacca has ended in tragedy. It's really sad," she said, adding that the last time they had met was during an Aidilfitri gathering in Penang.
"He was having a fun time with all of us," she said.
Ms Hartini said she was in Selangor when she received a call from her mother in Penang about Cpl Zal-Azri's death.
Cpl Zal-Azri, she added, was a helpful person and he was involved with many charities.
The three suspects are being probed under Section 302 and Section 379 of the Penal Code for murder and theft.
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