Hong Kong, October 19 (ANI): Chinese citizens on Monday mourned the death of a murder suspect Ou Jinzhong who gained wide public sympathy after a week on the run.
Ou was accused of killing two neighbours and injuring three others in China's southern Fujian province. He killed himself while resisting arrest on Monday, police in the city of Putian said in a statement on Monday evening, reported CNN.
Ou was sent to hospital and died despite emergency rescue efforts, the police statement added.
Ou's death has triggered an outpouring of sadness and outrage on social media. He attacked his neighbours with a knife amid a long-running land dispute, killing a 78-year-old man and his daughter-in-law. The man's wife, 34-year-old grandson and 9-year-old great-grandson were also injured, said police.
As the murders gained public attention, Ou's account on the microblogging site Weibo vanished, and the local government of Pinghai county issued a bounty for Ou, offering a higher amount of cash rewards for proof of his dead body than any information leading to his arrest -- triggering further public outrage.
"He hasn't enjoyed (the protection) of the law his whole life," said a top comment on Weibo. "This is the saddest news I've ever read," said another.
Others were said they were not convinced that Ou took his own life, and called for the police to release videos of the arrest (police in China are often required to record arrests and other law-enforcement activities with body-worn video cameras.)
"He killed himself immediately after he was found?" a comment said. "The public will not be so easily convinced."
The manhunt gripped millions in China, many of whom openly hoped he would never be caught. The level of sympathy and support is highly unusual for an alleged killer in China, where murder is punishable by death, reported CNN.
Many believed Ou was an ordinary man pushed to the brink of despair over years-long housing dispute. Public sympathy surged further after reports emerged that he had saved a young boy from drowning at sea three decades ago and rescued two dolphins that were nearly stranded in 2008.
For nearly five years, Ou and his family -- including his 89-year-old mother -- did not have a home, according to Ou's Weibo posts and Chinese media reports. Instead, they lived in a tiny tin shack in a seaside village in Putian city, reported CNN.
According to the posts, Ou was repeatedly prevented from building his own house due to land disputes with his neighbour. He said he sought help time and again from police, village officials, the government and the media, but the problem remained unresolved.
Many blamed Ou's apparent transition from saviour to murder suspect on the ills that have long plagued China's local governance, from abuse of power to official inaction.
Others see it as a reflection of the broader failure of the country's legal and bureaucratic system, exacerbated by a besieged free press and a crippled civil society, reported CNN. (ANI)