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May 12, 2014

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Shanghai police fire first shots since armed

A POLICE officer shot a driver allegedly trying to force his way through a roadblock early yesterday morning, the first shots fired since Shanghai police began carrying guns last month.

The driver, surnamed Li, who was said to be part of a gang of fuel thieves, was shot in the shoulder. He was taken to hospital. No details of his condition were released.

Wu Hui, the 29-year-old officer who fired the shot, said the driver was trying to smash through the roadblock and posed a threat.

When faced with the situation his training kicked in, Wu said.

“The shot was no different to what I usually do in training,” said Wu. “We do a lot of daily practice, and the technique had already become my instinct.”

Two police cars had set up a roadblock on Linhai Highway in Fengxian District at 11pm on Saturday to catch thieves stealing fuel from trucks in the area.

In each car were two officers, including one that was armed.

There had been reports that fuel thieves driving a modified Buick had been targeting the trucks parked at service stations.

They used a pump to steal fuel from the trucks, transferring the contents of a tank into another vehicle within a minute.

At 1:15am yesterday, the police patrols were told to stop a Buick driving toward them.

When the Buick driven by Li approached the roadblock, officers flagged down the vehicle.

Officer Zhang Wuyong was about to get out of his car to speak with Li when the Buick suddenly accelerated toward the police vehicle parked lengthways across the road, striking its door and injuring Zhang’s knee.

Zhang’s partner Wu leapt out of the vehicle and fired a warning shot into the air, said police.

Seeing that the Buick showed no sign of stopping, Wu aimed at the driver through the window and fired a second shot, which hit Li in his shoulder.

Police said they then heard groans and shouts from inside the vehicle and someone saying “they got me,” before the Buick lurched into reverse and crashed into a road barrier.

Officers then rushed forward and held three suspects in the car.

According to one suspect, surnamed Xing, the group had been stealing fuel the previous day, targeting trucks whose drivers stopped at service centers to sleep.

Xing would prize off the oil tank cover and insert a tube connected to an oil pump, said police.

The Henan Province native said he had been a driver for an illegal car rental business and was introduced to the gang.

Police said Li handed over his 200 yuan (US$32.1) payout for the theft the day before.

More than 1,000 police officers now carry guns when on routine patrol in Shanghai as part of a national security campaign.

Chinese police generally do not carry guns and gun crime is rare in China, which has tight control on firearms.

Until last month, Shanghai police had not carried guns for 60 years.


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