BEIJING (Reuters) - A Chinese man stabbed to death the father-in-law of a U.S. Olympic coach at a Beijing tourist spot on Saturday before taking his own life, casting a pall over the first day of sports action at the Games.
Todd Bachman was killed and his wife, Barbara, suffered life-threatening injuries in the knife attack, the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) said.
Their daughter, Elisabeth Bachman McCutcheon, who played volleyball for the U.S. women’s team at the 2004 Athens Games is married to New Zealander Hugh McCutcheon, coach of the men’s team. She was with her parents at the time of the attack but was not hurt, the USOC said.
A Chinese tour guide was also wounded in the attack by a man whom police said had no fixed residence nor job, but traveled to Beijing from the affluent eastern city of Hangzhou on August 1.
Tang Yongming, 47, from the eastern city of Hangzhou, attacked the trio shortly after midday at the centuries-old, 45-metre-high (148-ft-high) Drum Tower in central Beijing. He died after leaping from the Tower, police said.
Assaults on foreigners are rare in Beijing, host of the 2008 Olympic Games. Police said the Chinese tour guide was out of danger.
The Bachmans were not wearing apparel that identified them as relatives of members of the U.S. team, the USOC said.
The U.S. men’s volleyball team were due to play their opening game against Venezuela on Sunday.
The women’s team played a few hours after hearing the news, beating Japan in their match.
U.S. women’s team captain Robyn Ah Mow-Santos said Elisabeth Bachman McCutcheon was in their thoughts.
“We are just going to say that our hearts go out to her and her family,” she told reporters.
Police launched a search for Tang’s ex-wife and elder brother, trying to decipher the motives behind the seemingly random act.
“Tang has no criminal record. His neighbors said they hadn’t seen any abnormal behavior from him before left Hangzhou,” the official Xinhua news agency cited a police spokesman from the province of Zhejiang, where Hangzhou is situated, as saying.
International police organization Interpol said the attacker’s name had not been found in any of its databases.
Xinhua cited Zhejiang police as saying Tang had worked for a factory in Hangzhou before resigning. He divorced in 2006, sold his apartment and moved into a rented apartment.
Xinhua said Tang had never submitted any complaint to government officials — rejected complaints often stoke social discontent. He vacated his rented house August 1, saying he would move to an undisclosed location, Xinhua cited the police spokesman as saying.
U.S. President George W. Bush, in Beijing for the start of the Games with his wife Laura, offered condolences and any assistance the victim’s family needed.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families,” he told reporters.
Beijing had been calm in the run-up to the Summer Games, with more than 100,000 security officers fanning out across the vast capital and patrolling Games venues and public streets, a massive show of force they said was intended to discourage terrorism but that critics say also dampens protest.
Additional reporting by Deborah Charles, Simon Evans, Jeremy Pelofsky, Guo Shipeng, Jason Subler, Lee Chyen Yee and Ben Blanchard; Writing by Edwin Chan; Editing by Keith Weir