Man who snatched officer's revolver faces firearms charge

The suspect in the incident at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital last Saturday faces a charge punishable by the death penalty. Three shots were fired in a struggle and a policeman was wounded in his left thumb and right foot.
The suspect in the incident at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital last Saturday faces a charge punishable by the death penalty. Three shots were fired in a struggle and a policeman was wounded in his left thumb and right foot.PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

THE 24-year-old Singaporean had been arrested for motor vehicle theft, but now faces a charge punishable by the death penalty.

Last Saturday, he tried to escape from Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH) and snatched the revolver of the police officer who tried to stop him.

Three shots were fired in the struggle that ensued and the policeman was wounded in his left thumb and right foot.

The case has been classified as an unlawful discharge of firearms under the Arms Offences Act, which carries the death penalty.

The suspect will appear in court at 2pm today, police said last night.

The man, whose identity has not yet been revealed, had been arrested last Friday - a day before the shooting - and was under remand for further investigation, police revealed.

Last Saturday, he complained of chest pains and was escorted by police officers to KTPH.

He tried to escape from one of the hospital's examination rooms, which are "not accessible to the public", police said.

The 31-year-old police officer whose revolver was snatched was injured in the struggle that followed.

It is believed that the escape attempt took place when the police officer's colleague left the room.

The suspect was subsequently subdued. Two paramedics from Hope Ambulance Service assisted in apprehending the man, The Straits Times has learnt.

The injured police officer was taken to Tan Tock Seng Hospital for immediate hand microsurgery and is now in stable condition.

When asked about the incident on the sidelines of a grassroots event earlier yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said that any illegal use of firearms was a "serious offence".

Former policemen The Straits Times spoke to raised concerns about whether there were enough police officers with the suspect when the escape attempt took place.

They also asked why the suspect was not taken to the hospital in Changi Prison instead.

Retired officer Lionel de Souza, 72, said: "There should always be at least two police escorts. And on no occasion should either leave."

Saturday night's shooting followed a separate incident about three weeks ago, when police fired on a car that crashed through security barriers near the Shangri-La Hotel. The 34-year- old driver died on the spot.

adrianl@sph.com.sg

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 22, 2015, with the headline 'Man who snatched officer's revolver faces firearms charge'. Print Edition | Subscribe