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June 27, 2017

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Fugitive arrested after gunning down cabbie

After much drama in a two-hour confrontation, police yesterday arrested a wanted man who shot and killed the taxi driver when he was told there was no road ahead.

The 43-year-old desperado, wanted for another crime, was pacing slowly, gun in hand, back and forth by the taxicab with the dying or dead driver in it when police officers responding to calls from local residents arrived on the scene in Hualien County.

During the ensuing standoff, the man, identified by his surname Chang, threatened to kill himself by pointing his gun at his own temple. But when he pulled the trigger, his gun was jammed. Seizing the opportunity, police officers fired two warning shots, charged forward and overpowered him.

According to investigators, after a drinking binge with friends at a recreational shrimp farm, the man flagged down a taxi in the county's Hsincheng Township and ordered the driver to go down an industrial road behind the Kuang Lung museum.

During the ride, the man kept looking over his shoulder and telling the driver his enemies were in hot pursuit and even fired a shot out of the window. Shortly after, the driver told him they were reaching a dead end. The man ignored the driver's warning, pulled a gun, and told the driver to drive on.

He was mad at the taxi driver, suspecting he was taking a detour, according to police sources.

"Do you know who I am? And do you believe I am going to shoot you?" the man allegedly said before shooting the taxi driver, a 31-year-old father of a young boy, in the stomach, killing him in a sweet potato garden at the end of the road. Police officers and medical personnel could detect no heartbeat in the man after the gunman was subdued. The man's wife was beside herself with grief when she saw the dead body in the morgue.

Police on the case said Chang's motives had yet to be established, but suspected he was under the influence of both alcohol and paranoid delusions. The man has a long rap sheet as well as a long history of substance abuse.

Chang had two guns. He was caught with one. The other, with which he killed the taxi driver, was hidden in the sweet potato garden and later found by the police.

After the tragedy, a scholar said people taken hostage should try their best to avoid provoking their hostage-takers whether they are armed or not.

Anyone can run into a "random" hostage-taker, Professor Sandy Yu-Lan Yeh at Central Police University of Taiwan warned yesterday. Describing such people as "prone to bad-temper bouts," Yeh suggested that people who have the misfortune of being in the hands of one try to remain subservient and submissive.

These people are control freaks and usually think they "have nothing to lose," according to Yeh.

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