Tue, Aug 08, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Gun battle leads to capture of notorious criminal in Jhonghe

By Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Two desperate criminals -- one of whom is a notorious murderer on the most-wanted list -- were captured yesterday after a fierce gun battle with police in Jhonghe City (中和) in Taipei County.

Police arrested Wu Sheng-chi (吳勝麒), 37, and another man during an early morning raid, after information from a kidnapping investigation led authorities to the gangsters' lair.

Detectives investigating the kidnapping and subsequent ransoming of a wealthy restaurateur discovered that Wu was one of four men responsible and tracked him to a hideout in the sprawling Taipei suburb of Jhonghe.

Yesterday at 5:30am, more than 30 heavily armed police officers raided Wu's hideout.

Police rang the doorbell hoping to gain access to the apartment. But the desperate Wu was on his guard, and when he saw the officers at his door, he began firing his pistol at them.

Officers returned fire, but they were unable to force their way into the apartment, and made a tactical retreat.

A gun battle ensued.

Wu and suspected kidnapper Lee Chih-chieh (李智傑), 26, began firing at police from the windows of their hideout, triggering a ferocious exchange of fire and sending startled neighbors out of their beds in the early dawn.

Police armed with heavy weapons deployed on the buildings around Wu's lair, trapping the suspects in their den. Escape was impossible.

After a few hours of stalemate, the police finally made their move. But what ended the standoff was not brute force; it was subtle psychology.

Police brought Wu's family to the scene.

Although he had been able to fend off the police assault, Wu found it impossble to withstand the pleadings of his wife and parents, who begged him not to risk his life any further by resisting.

Wu and Lee surrendered to the police, walked out of the apartment and put themselves in custody.

Wu has been on the most- wanted list since he shot and killed a gangster in 1998 in Taipei.

In 2004, Wu also shot and wounded man surnamed Su -- a pimp who ran his prostitution business in Taipei City -- over a dispute about gambling debts, according to police.

The kidnapping that led to Wu's capture occurred months ago.

Ilan police said in a press statement that a 50-year-old restaurant owner surnamed Lin had been kidnapped in Ilan County on May 24.

The kidnappers had asked the Lin family for a ransom of NT$20 million (US$609,000). The family continued to negotiate with the kidnappers, and 13 days later the victim Lin was released after his family paid the suspects NT$5 million.

According to police, two suspects involved in the kidnapping are still at large.

The victim Lin, who operates a well-known restaurant in Ilan County, yesterday told the TV station ETTV that he felt he could relax after hearing that the kidnappers had been apprehended.

He said his family had lived through hell during his 13 day ordeal.

Police recovered three pistols from the two suspects.

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