May 22 (Bloomberg) -- A college student was detained on accusations that he attacked riders on Taipei’s subway with two knives, killing four people and wounding 23 in the first such assault in the system’s 18-year history.
New Taipei District Court this morning approved the detention of a 21-year-old suspect, a sophomore at the Tunghai University, New Taipei District Prosecutors Office head prosecutor Lee Hai-lung said by phone today. Two women and two men were killed, he said.
Television footage showed a man charging toward passengers with two knives and people trying to fend him off with their umbrellas. Footage of armed guards and blood stains in a metro station were also shown.
“He is held by prosecutors for murder investigations,” Lee said. A conviction may lead to life imprisonment or a death penalty, he said.
The incident occurred in a westbound subway train at 4:26 p.m. yesterday when it was between the Longshan Temple and Jiangzicui stations, Taipei Rapid Transit Corp. said in a statement. New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu said in a statement that additional police officers have been deployed to ensure the safety of passengers.
The attack is the first of its kind in Taiwan’s public transportation, said Sandy Yeh, director at the Central University’s Department of Administration Police.
The suspect received counseling earlier this month after administrators discovered disturbing social media posts, Central News Agency reported, citing university official Lu Bing-kuan. School administrators found nothing abnormal during the counseling, Tunghai University said in an e-mailed statement today.
President Ma Ying-jeou expressed “shock and heartbreak,” in an e-mailed statement, calling on police to devote all resources to the investigation.
The first line of the Taipei Metro system began operating in 1996, according to its website.
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Debra Mao at email@example.com Tan Hwee Ann, Nicholas Wadhams