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Classification: Mass murderer
Characteristics: Mass stabbing spree on a Taipei Metro train
Number of victims: 4
Date of murders: May 21, 2014
Date of arrest: Same day
Date of birth: 1992
Victims profile: Chang Cheng-han, 26 (male); Hsieh Ching-yun, 28 (male), Pan Pi-chu, 47, and Lee Tsui-yun, 62 (both female)
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife
Location: New Taipei City, Taiwan
Status: Charged with four counts of murder and 22 counts of attempted murder. In prison awaiting trial

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The 2014 Taipei Metro attack was a mass stabbing spree that took place on 21 May 2014, directed toward unspecific civilians on a Taipei Metro train near Jiangzicui Station, resulting in 4 deaths and 24 injured.

It was the first fatal attack on the city's subway system since it began operations in 1996. The suspected attacker is 21-year-old university student Cheng Chieh (鄭捷), who was arrested after the attack.


The attack happened at around 4:25 p.m. local time on the Bannan (blue) line, inside a train heading west between Longshan Temple Station in Taipei and Jiangzicui Station in New Taipei. The distance between the two stations is the longest between any two stations in the metro system, lasting around 5 minutes.

During the attack, the assailant hacked and chased passengers with a 30 cm long fruit knife. Before the train could stop at Jiangzicui Station, a group of passengers banded together to distance themselves using umbrellas while others tried to discourage the attacker by loudly taunting him.


According to statistics compiled by the New Taipei Fire Department, the youngest victim was a 26-year-old graduate student at National Cheng Kung University, identified as Chang Cheng-han (male). The other three killed are 28-year-old Hsieh Ching-yun (male), 47-year-old Pan Pi-chu and 62-year-old Lee Tsui-yun (both female). They were all taken to different hospitals in Taipei and New Taipei, the department said. In addition, 24 others were wounded during the knife attack, 10 of whom critically.

Initial response

When the subway train arrived at Jiangzicui Station, a single suspected assailant was subdued by passengers, police and metro staff and taken to the nearby Haishan police station after a brief standoff. Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin said police presence on the metro was increased soon after the incident and added that he was requesting reinforcements from the National Police Agency.

On 22 May, the suspect was taken to the New Taipei District Prosecutors Office for questioning. A prosecutor applied to detain him in the New Taipei District Court, which was approved by a judge around 6:20 am. He was detained in the Taipei Detention Center located in Tucheng District, with an inmate number of 1892.

Questioning after attack

New Taipei Police Chief Chen Kou-en identified the suspected attacker as Cheng Chieh, a 21-year-old second-year student at Tunghai University in the central city of Taichung. Chief Chen said the suspect told police he had wanted to do something "shocking and big" and had plotted to carry out the attack from childhood. Chen said no other motive was presently known.

During questioning, the suspect said he originally intended to attack after his college graduation, but decided to move earlier since he had "no classes" on 21 May and he had grown tired of living. The suspect stated that he does not admit guilt, feels no regret, wants the death sentence, and that even if his parents were on the train he attacked, he would have killed them, as well as the prosecutors questioning him.


Early history

In elementary school, Cheng threatened to kill classmates over small disagreements. In junior high, he had carried a knife for a month looking for a chance to stab his teacher. In senior high, Cheng began blogging about his plans to kill and posted articles about murders. He enrolled in Chung Cheng Institute of Technology in 2011 with the intention of receiving military training, but was expelled two years later. He then transferred to Tunghai University. School officials there had noticed Cheng's startling social media activity and offered him counseling before the incident, but no irregularities were discovered.


On the evening of 21 May, people began leaving flowers and cards at an exit of Jiangzicui Station to pay tribute to those who died in the attack.

On 22 May, President Ma Ying-jeou condemned the attack and ordered the National Police Agency to investigate what led a university student to stab four people to death on a crowded subway train. The Legislative Yuan on 23 May released a joint statement signed by all political parties calling for the National Police Agency to thoroughly re-examine and increase police deployment on metro systems, railways and airports. Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin announced that police officers from precincts in Taipei and New Taipei City are to be permanently deployed at each of the Taipei MRT commuter rail system's 109 stations.

General manager Tan Gwa-guang of the Taipei Rapid Transit Corporation stated that the company would pay the medical expenses of the victims and set aside NT$4 million to compensate their families.

Tunghai University released an open letter, saying that Cheng is part of the family, and promised to set up an expert committee to investigate the matter.

KMT legislator Jiang Hui-zhen (江惠貞) said the passengers had put themselves in danger by focusing on their smartphones, while KMT legislator Lin Te-fu (林德福) said the passengers should have quickly pressed the emergency alert button in the train, and that the passengers lacked common sense. These remarks had sparked a public outcry against the legislators.

The incident has sparked a debate online about whether the death penalty is appropriate punishment for such attacks. A Facebook group named "Indefinitely supporting death penalty for Cheng Chieh" had over 32,000 "likes" as of 22 May.

Lin Hsin-yi (林欣怡), executive director of the Taiwan Alliance to End the Death Penalty, said that the most important thing at present is for the public to think about how to help the victims of the metro slashing spree and ease the survivors and their relatives out of the suffering brought about by the tragedy.

On 27 May, Cheng Chieh's parents publicly apologized at Jiangzicui Station and called for a quick death sentence for their son.


Cheng was indicted by the New Taipei District Prosecutors Office on 21 July, and charged with four counts of murder and 22 counts of attempted murder. The Taipei Rapid Transit Corporation, the company that runs the Taipei Metro, is also suing Cheng for NT$$20.61 million in lost earnings.


It felt 'nice': What Taipei subway killer told police after stabbing spree

Assailant says he found it difficult to live, so carried out murder to get death penalty

Lawrence Chung in Taipei -

Friday, 23 May, 2014

The attacker in Taiwan’s first deadly subway attack told police investigators he felt “nice” after stabbing four passengers to death.

Cheng Chieh, a 21-year-old Tunghai University student, boarded the train from downtown to the nearby New Taipei City on Wednesday, pulled out a knife and began stabbing people at random during the nearly four-minute ride. Twenty-four were injured.

“[Cheng] also told us he chose to commit the crime from Lungshan Temple station to Jiangzicui station because he knew the ride – the longest between stops – would give him more time to kill,” said an investigator with the New Taipei City police department.

Passengers rushed out of the attacker’s train car when it arrived at Jiangzicui on the metro’s main east-west line, shouting for people on the platform to flee, according to news reports. Photos showed a train car floor and the station platform next to it splattered with blood.

Cheng was arrested after he tried to attack more passengers fleeing the carriage when the train stopped at Jiangzicui.

He was taken into custody at the Taipei Detention Centre yesterday morning, following lengthy questioning by police investigators.

It was the first such attack on the Taipei metro system since it started operations in 1996.

Police said the suspect confessed he wanted to do “something big” since childhood and that he had fantasised about a subway killing spree.

He also told police he found it “distressful” to live, but because he had no courage to kill himself, he decided to carry out mass murder so he could receive the death penalty.

Police said many of the victims did not see the attacker coming, possibly because they were sleeping or looking at their cellphones, allowing Chieh to claim so many victims in such a short time.

The attacker’s parents told police their son was a homebody and liked spending time on computer games featuring violence.

As Taiwan, which has generally had low crime rates, was left stunned by the tragedy, legislators demanded that police beef up patrols in public areas.

President Ma Ying-jeou ordered Taiwan’s police ministry to investigate what led a university student to go on a murderous rampage.

“I feel extremely shocked and hurt by this grave event,” Ma said on his Facebook page. He said he told the cabinet to “order the National Police Agency to do all it can to check into the situation behind this case”.

Tsai Cheng-yuan, a legislator of the ruling Kuomintang, has initiated a draft revision of the criminal law to make capital punishment the sole penalty for random killings in public.

Taipei’s metro system raised security from Wednesday afternoon as trains resumed service just after 5pm on the day of the attack. About 1.78 million people ride the metro daily.

“I thought the metro system was OK today, although some people on the train were discussing the incident,” said commuter Alice Chen, an accountant in her 40s. “They said it was terrifying. It’s terrifying but I think it’s a one-off incident.”


Knifeman who stabbed four to death on Taipei subway had 'planned attack for years'

Police say university student ran amok on a train, stabbing passengers at random

Lawrence Chung in Taipei -

Wednesday, 21 May, 2014

At least four people were killed in a knife attack on a subway train in Taipei yesterday, in the worst attack on the subway line in its 18-year history.

Police said a 21-year-old Tunghai University student, identified as Cheng Che, moved down the train, stabbing passengers at random at about 4pm yesterday.

Two men and two women died. Twenty-one people were injured and are in hospital.

The attack happened while the train was en route to Jiangzicui from Longshan Temple.

Panic-struck travellers rushed out of the train when it stopped at a station and screamed for help. A female student on the platform at Jiangzicui station said that when the train pulled up, bloodied women ran out as soon as the door opened, shouting, “A man inside with a knife attacking at random, don’t go in!”

“I’m so scared, help me!” shouted another victim after police arrived on the scene.

The knifeman followed passengers onto the platform, but was pursued by police. He tried to run away but was overpowered.

Under interrogation, he confessed to police that he had planned the attack long time ago but only decided to commit the crime last week. The suspect showed no remorse, police said.

Police are still determining if Cheng has a mental illness.

One woman who was cut in the arm by the attacker said: "He looked very calm and seemed undisturbed by the terrified passengers when he stabbed at them, aiming mostly at their necks and stomachs."

Another passenger who was chased by the suspect and managed to escape said: "I heard people screaming when a woman collapsed and then I realised that a lunatic was attacking others with a knife.

"As the train was moving, there was no way we could get off."

Police said the suspect attacked people at random and showed no sign of remorse after he was arrested.

Police said he did not have a medical record, but they could not rule out that he was mentally ill.

"He told us he had wanted to do an 'important thing' since childhood and had told his friends about this," said Chen Kuo-en, the head of New Taipei City police department.

"He bought two knives, including a 30 centimetre long one, from a supermarket, took the subway from the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall station in Taipei, and commenced the crime at Lungshan Temple station."

Lu Ping-kuan, the chief secretary of Tunghai University in Taichung in the west of the island, said they had learned through the suspect's social media account on Facebook that the student was mentally unstable.

"We had tried to arrange a consultation for him, but because of the recent rainstorm we had to postpone the consultation to a later day," said Lu.

The parents of the suspect were not available for comment last night.

Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin and New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu Li-luan said yesterday that they would increase police patrols on the subway system in the aftermath of the attack.

As of 4.50 pm yesterday, the subway returned to normal operations, according to Xinhua.

Police have stepped up patrols as the Taipei subway sees about 1.8 million passengers on an average day, while only 135 police officers are stationed there.



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