Shots fired after repeated warnings

A police cordon after the incident outside the Shangri-La on May 31 last year. Two Gurkha officers standing guard outside had opened fire at a car that was accelerating towards the final line of concrete barriers after repeated warnings for the drive
A police cordon after the incident outside the Shangri-La on May 31 last year. Two Gurkha officers standing guard outside had opened fire at a car that was accelerating towards the final line of concrete barriers after repeated warnings for the driver to stop went unheeded.ST FILE PHOTO

The Vehicle Counter Assault Teams, made up of pairs of armed Gurkha officers, had a straightforward mission - use all lawful means to prevent any vehicle from crashing through barriers and leaving the vehicle check stations set up outside Shangri-La Hotel.

On May 31 last year, two officers saw that a car had driven off without being checked by police and was accelerating towards the final line of concrete barriers.

Moving towards the car, the Gurkha officers raised their weapons while shouting repeatedly for the driver to stop, State Counsel and Second Solicitor-General Kwek Mean Luck told the court yesterday.

But it kept on accelerating, and crashed through the barriers, before turning towards the Shangri-La Hotel and surrounding residential apartments.

One of the Gurkha officers fired a shot in the driver's direction. The car kept on moving. The second officer then fired two shots. With no indication that the car was stopping, the second officer fired two more shots. At this point, the car slowed to a crawling speed.

The Gurkhas are elite soldiers from Nepal employed in the British Army, Indian Army and Singapore Police Force. Singapore's Gurkha Contingent was formed in 1949. The unit saw action in the ensuing decades against militant unions and in racial riots, where their image as a neutral force became an asset. About 2,000 of them are serving in the Singapore Police Force.

Amir Hussain

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 27, 2016, with the headline 'Shots fired after repeated warnings'. Print Edition | Subscribe