TUARAN, Sabah: A two-year-old girl was taken hostage by a knife-wielding man at an apartment building in the little town of Telipok, in Sabah, Malaysia on Sunday (Jan 13).
The 30-year-old suspect was shot dead by the police five hours after he first grabbed the girl, during which he held a knife to her neck and threatened to throw her off the building.
The girl, who has not been identified, suffered a cut to her neck.
GIRL WAS PLAYING WHEN GRABBED
The situation unfolded about noon, according to eyewitnesses, when the suspect went to the fourth-storey of the apartment block and grabbed the child, who was playing along a corridor.
Based on preliminary investigations,it is believed that the suspect did not live around the neighbourhood, said Sabah police commissioner Omar Mammah. No identification documents were found on him.
“On the fourth floor of this apartment block there is a stall. The suspect had gone to the stall before pulling out a knife and grabbing the child who was outside the stall. He then locked her in the apartment unit," said Omar.
The suspect had ordered the homeowner, who was performing midday prayers, to get out of the house, he said. The homeowner did as he was told upon seeing the suspect with a knife.
Omar say that the residents had called the police at about 4pm.
When they arrived, the police tried to negotiate with the suspect for more than one hour, Omar said. They decided to shoot the suspect after he threatened to throw the girl down from the kitchen of the fourth-floor unit.
“Throughout the negotiations, he persisted in holding the knife at her neck which caused a slight cut ," Omar said.
“When it appeared that he would do what he was saying, police had no choice but to order our sharpshooters to gun him down. The suspect was instantly killed and the girl rescued,” he added.
The girl was rushed to the Likas Hospital for further treatment.
GIRL DID NOT CRY DESPITE INJURY: EYEWITNESS
An eyewitness, 49-year-old Arwan Hatta, said he had seen the suspect going up to the top floor of the apartment block and then entering one of the units.
He said the suspect then came out of the unit and grabbed the child, who was playing along the corridor.
"The suspect then pulled out a a knife before pointing it to the neck of the child and then took her up into a room at one of the houses on the top floor.
"After that I shouted out saying there was a ‘child kidnapper’ before the neighbours came to help," he said.
Arwan, who has lived in the apartment complex for nine years, said that even though the girl was injured, she did not cry.
He said that with help from the neighbours, they broke down the front door of the house where the child was held as hostage.
"But then, the suspect was in the toilet while spurting water over the girl, and at the same time threatening us and telling us not to get near the child,” he said.
REVENGE NOT THE MOTIVE: GRANDMOTHER OF GIRL
It is unclear why the suspect decided to hold the girl hostage.
The grandmother of the girl, however, denied speculation of revenge as a motive.
Sharmala Mohd Akhir said that the family did not know the suspect.
"We don’t know him at all and have never seen the man (suspect)," she told reporters.
The girl’s aunt Nor Fatihah Nasir said the child’s mother was at home when the incident happened. She added that the girl’s mother only realised what had happened after a neighbour notified her that her daughter had been abducted and locked inside a neighbour’s house.