Fri, Dec 24, 2004 - Page 2 News List

Alleged 319 bulletmaker's pistols suggest new clues

`UNIQUE' Evidence that all Tang Shou-yi's pistols could fire multiple shots suggests the would-be assassin had bought his gun from Tang. Police refused to comment

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The police yesterday announced a new lead that might indicate that the bullets fired at President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) on March 19 had come from the same gun, although officials refused to comment on whether this was indeed the case.

"We discovered that every single pistol made by Tang Shou-yi (唐守義) is unique. Or let me rephrase ... his work is unique," said Hou You-yi (侯友宜), commissioner of the National Police Agency's Criminal Investigation Bureau.

Tang was arrested earlier this month on suspicion that he had made the bullets used in the assassination attempt on Chen and Lu.

"Unlike usual homemade pistols, Tang's products are capable of firing more than two bullets consecutively," Hou said.

He declined to say whether this meant that the president and vice president could have been shot by the same pistol.

The integrity barrel is one of the most important parts of a pistol, especially a homemade one. For structural reasons, the makers of such pistols usually do not solder the barrel, although Tang did so for every single pistol he made, Hou said.

In addition, Tang added a chamber to eject spent bullets, making his pistols capable of firing several bullets within "a very short time," which is an unusual feature in most homemade pistols, Hou said.

He said that Tang's homemade products were all based on the Beretta M84 pistol, which has a 9mm barrel. Tang, however, supplied his guns with 8mm barrels, which has made it easier for the police to track down his handiwork.

The police have said that Tang has confessed to having made a total of 40 pistols and more than 1,000 bullets since he started his business in January last year.

According to the latest figures released by the Criminal Investigation Bureau yesterday, officers have retrieved 19 fake Berettas made by Tang, as well as 300 homemade bullets.

Police officers have also interrogated more than 100 people who have owned or currently possess these pistols and bullets, but they have not linked any of these people to the March 19 assassination attempt.

"I can assure you that we have the ability and determination to retrieve every one of them, including the pistols and bullets, so that we can find the man we are looking for," Hou said.

Tang was arrested on Oct. 12 at his Tainan residence, which allegedly doubled as his illegal weapons factory.

On Dec. 13, prosecutors and the police held a joint press conference to announce that they had confirmed that Tang had made the bullets and pistol used in the attack on Chen and Lu.

They are focusing their investigation on finding the person who had bought the weapon from Tang and used it in the failed assassination attempt.

The police had been unable to confirm whether the two bullets which injured the president and vice president came from the same pistol. However, the new evidence seemed to suggest that this was a possibility.

Meanwhile, police are screening Tang's phone records in a bid to identify the buyer of the gun that had been used in the attack.

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