Police in Nanjing search for a suspect onboard a coach at a highway toll station Sunday. The suspect shot a man dead and stole 200,000 yuan in the city on Friday. Photo: Lu Yun/GT
Police in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, have initiated a blanket search for a serial killer who has been dodging authorities for at least eight years and killed a man in broad daylight Friday, making off with 200,000 yuan ($31,701).
Nanjing authorities have deployed 13,000 officers and two helicopters to search for him. Police officers are conducting patrols and check-ups at all train stations, bus stations, river docks, Internet cafes and hotels. Roadblocks have been set up on major routes.
Officers have been instructed to check all vehicles that look suspicious. Drivers and conductors working on long-distance buses have received the suspect's photo.
Male passengers were required to show identification cards when boarding. Those who did not carry an ID card needed to provide other forms of identification, which were verified by the police on the spot, media reports said.
Police say the suspect also committed six other armed robberies in Chongqing and Changsha, Hunan Province, between April 2004 and June 2011, killing six people and stealing a total of 280,000 yuan.
The Beijing News quoted a police source as saying that the suspect is likely to be Zeng Kaigui, 42, who once served for the armed police force of the People's Liberation Army in Yunnan Province and is skilled at avoiding surveillance. In 1995, Zeng killed a person in an armed robbery.
Wanted posters are being distributed in the city. In the metro system, which has only two lines in operation, more than 700 posters have been put up.
A bounty of 100,000 yuan ($1,585) for anyone who provides crucial clues to the suspect's whereabouts, while the reward for the suspect's capture is 1 million yuan.
The Nanjing police told the Beijing News that as of yesterday, they have received 300 telephone calls providing clues, and investigators are working on the information.
"A mobile phone message attached with a photo of the suspect was also sent to residents in Nanjing, warning them of the potential risks and asking the public for clues to hunt down the man," Liu Canhui, a doctor in Nanjing, told the Global Times yesterday.
The atmosphere in the city is "kind of tense," Liu said. "But I'm not afraid though, the whole city is after the guy."
The message described the suspect as a tanned man in his 40s, 1.7 meters tall, wearing a dark coat, a peaked cap and dark glasses. He is said to speak with a Sichuan accent.
The latest victim was shot in the head after withdrawing 200,000 yuan in cash from a bank shortly before 10 am.
A witness told a local newspaper that the suspect showed no sign of nerves after carrying out the shooting and quietly left the scene with the money.
The bank from which the victim withdrew money remains closed. A clerk told the Beijing News that the robber did not enter the bank before the shooting, and the police had collected surveillance footage from the bank.
Chen, the manager of a security company in Nanjing, told the Global Times that his company has tightened security over the areas under its surveillance, including office buildings and shopping malls.
"We expect an increase in security demand. More security personnel have been recruited for the Spring Festival, when crime is likely to rise," Chen said.
For four years, Nanjing's Dongshan police station has offered a free service to escort people depositing or withdrawing money at banks.
A police officer working there told the Global Times that after the robbery case on Friday, the police station received seven escort requests over the weekend, a slight increase over the usual one or two daily requests.
"After the attack, we sent more officers onto the street to ensure that nothing happens in our area," the police officer said.
A source from Chaoyang District Court in Beijing told the Beijing Evening News that robberies and burglaries usually increase during Spring Festival holiday as most people carry more money with them and are not on their guard against such crimes.