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Taipei Metro attacker hinted at future action on Facebook: minister

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The college student who killed four people and injured at least 23 others on the Taipei Metro had been put on an observation list after he hinted at his action on his Facebook page weeks earlier, Education Minister Chiang Wei-ling (蔣偉寧) said Thursday.

Cheng Chieh (鄭捷), a 21-year-old New Taipei resident who studies at Tunghai University in Taichung, madly hacked passengers with a 30-cm-long fruit knife Wednesday on a metro train that was heading west between Longshan Temple Station in Taipei and Jiangzicui Station in New Taipei before he was subdued by police and metro staff.

According to media reports, just weeks before the stabbing spree, Cheng posted comments on his Facebook page saying he would “do something big,” in which the word “hack” appeared as many as 20 times.

Asked about the matter during a legislative hearing, Chiang said the university had a counseling session with Cheng May 9 after being informed of his Facebook posts.

The university came to the conclusion that Cheng's case did not involve a highly dangerous situation and decided to continue to observe his performance and planned to arrange another counseling session with him, Chiang said.

He admitted that if the university had dealt with Cheng in a more proactive way, the tragedy might have been prevented.

The university obviously made a mistaken judgment in failing to identify Cheng as a potential danger, he said.

He said the Education Ministry will review the existing counseling services at universities within a week and present a report to the Legislative Yuan.

To strengthen the counseling services, the ministry has proposed amending related laws to require universities to hire one counselor for every 1,200 students, he said.

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