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July 28, 2017

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Woman fended off MRT attacker with bag

TAIPEI -- News of another act of heroism in the Taipei Metro stabbing spree last week emerged Wednesday, this time involving a woman who wielded only a handbag to protect herself and other passengers from the attacker.

The woman, identified as 37-year old Tsai Yueh-yin, reportedly swung her bag filled with books at the 21-year-old suspect Cheng Chieh to fend him off as he approached her carriage, stabbing people at random with knives.

"I had books borrowed from the library in my bag, so acting on instinct, I immediately stood up and swung the bag at him," Tsai, a survey assistant at New Taipei's Land Administration Department, told cable TV network Eastern Television (ETTV).

Cheng reportedly also tried to attack a mother-infant pair sitting next to Tsai, who stood up to the suspect to protect the pair.

"It was my maternal instincts. I pulled them behind me and swung my large bag at the suspect again," Tsai, a mother of two, told ETTV.

According to a United Daily News report, Tsai also tried to stop the suspect from attacking an elderly woman sitting near her and had one of her fingers cut by the attacker's knife while defending the passenger.

In response to an earlier controversial remark by a government official that "no one" stood up against the suspect, Tsai hopes that people will stop making the survivors of the stabbing spree feel guilty.

"We are not well-trained police or SWAT team members. We just wanted to stay alive for the people we love," Tsai said.

Tsai was not the only passenger who demonstrated bravery during the incident on May 21 that left four people dead and 24 others injured.

A few men stood in front of a group of passengers to defend them from the attacker.

A video clip shot by one of the passengers showed one of the men, later identified as a 52-year-old businessman, standing bravely with others in front of the group, pointing only an umbrella at the suspect in a standoff that lasted at least 40 seconds, until the train approached the next stop.

When contacted by the Apple Daily, the man said modestly that he was "not the only one" standing in front of the group.

Surveillance video also showed a few courageous passengers trying to subdue the suspect on the platform. A 62-year-old man named Chen Feng, who has practiced martial arts, was the first to subdue the suspect and kept him in place until the police arrived.

He said he didn't dare tell his family about the incident, but knew he was "doing the right thing."

A 36 year-old nurse who was waiting on the platform was also reported by local media to have rushed into the train to help the wounded with little regard for her own safety.

"It was an instinctive response. I didn't think that much about it on the spur of the moment," she told the press.

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