On September 14 Xue Zhenguo (薛貞國), a 38-year-old police detective, was beaten do death during an altercation with several members of a criminal gang near ATT 4 FUN, a shopping mall and recreation centre in Taipei‘s Xinyi District.
According to ‘Apple Daily‘, the causes of the incident date back to September 13, when a man named Zeng Weihao (曾威豪), his girlfriend Liu Xintong (劉芯彤), and three other people went to SPARK, a famous nightclub inside ATT 4 FUN. Customers at a nearby table complained that the group was too loud, and a fight broke out between them. The nightclub’s security intervened and forced Zeng and his friends to leave the premises. Zeng was enraged and vowed to settle the score. “We are from the Hetang*,” he said, “we’ll teach you a lesson.”
*(和堂, pinyin: Hétáng, is a subgroup of the notorious Bamboo Gang, one of Taiwan’s most powerful criminal syndicates)
The 28-year-old Zeng Weihao immediately went to his friend Xiao Ruihong (蕭叡鴻), who is a member of the Bamboo Gang, and asked him for help. Xiao contacted his “younger brothers” and assembled a force of around 50 men. At about 00:40 of September 14, Zeng, 22-year-old Liu Xintong, 26-year-old Xiao Ruihong and his thugs went to SPARK to punish those who had slighted Zeng the previous day.
The security guards, however, recognising Zeng, prevented the gang from entering the nightclub. At 01:08, Xue Zhenguo, a police officer off duty, and his 38-year-old colleague Zhang Ruiyuan (莊瑞源) arrived at the scene of the fight. “Who is the boss?” asked Xue. Eyewitnesses’ accounts suggest that Xue Zhenguo hit Zeng, thus provoking him and his friends. At this point, the thugs surrounded the two policemen and began beating them fiercely with clubs. They dragged Xue out of the building and kept beating him. At around 01:12, the band dispersed, leaving Xue in a pool of blood in the middle of the street.
The head of the security at ATT 4 FUN and another man rushed to provide first-aid help. Xue was severely injured; his teeth were broken, his body twitched, and blood kept gushing from his mouth. To prevent Xue from biting his tongue, the man first put his finger into Xue’s mouth, then a black plastic object which – as he later found out – was a switchblade that had not been opened. An ambulance arrived a few minutes later, but attempts to save him were unsuccessful, and he was pronounced dead at 01:23. Zhuang Ruiyuan, too, suffered injuries, but he had managed to escape.
|ATT 4 FUN building in Taipei’s Xinyi District (source)|
It isn’t clear why Xue Zhenguo intervened in the altercation, since he was off duty that night. According to the police, Xue and Zhuang met for dinner that evening. Zhuang arrived first at the meeting point, and while he was waiting he saw a suspicious looking group of men who were heading towards a nightclub in the shopping mall. Zhuang called Xue, notified him, and the two rushed to see what was going on.
However, Taiwan’s media speculate that Xue might be involved in illegal activities in the capital’s nightclub scene. Xue is suspected of working as a “dispute mediator” for some nightclubs. Two years ago, Xue was officially reprimanded by the police because he had put pressure on the victim of a nightclub fight to settle the case out of court. According to The China Post, the thugs who had beaten the man allegedly were under Xue Zhenguo’s protection. Moreover, a version of the events that emerged from the ongoing police investigation suggests that one day prior to the events Xue had been contacted by SPARK personnel via Facebook and had been told that some people might cause trouble on September 14.
According to the latest available reports, on September 14 Xue Zhenguo was supposed to take part in the birthday party of one of his colleagues, the 40-year-old Zheng Hongzhen (鄭宏振). The party started before midnight of September 13 at MYST, another club inside the ATT 4 FUN building.
While Zheng Hongzhen celebrated his birthday party on the 9th floor, downstairs Xue Zhenguo was being beaten to death. The security staff at SPARK called Zheng and told him that something had happened to Xue. Zheng went downstairs and found out that Xue was lying on the floor outside the building in a pool of blood.
The testimonies of Zeng Weihao and two of SPARK’s security guards suggest that Xue Zhenguo had not – as the police had claimed at the beginning – immediately disclosed his identity as a police officer. Furthermore, he insulted and kicked Zeng Weihao, arousing the anger of the thugs. According to eyewitnesses, when Xue realised how explosive the situation was, he said, “Wait a minute, wait a minute“, and told them he was a policeman. But it was already too late.
The autopsy revealed that Xue had a high blood alcohol level. In fact, that very night he went to LAVA, a nightclub near ATT 4 FUN, where he drank, planning to join his colleagues at MYST later.
On September 14 Zeng Weihao, Liu Xintong and Xiao Ruihong were detained by the police and remain in custody. Other 12 suspects were taken into custody and released on bail ranging from NT$50,000 to NT$100,000. The police said Zeng and Liu were persuaded by his family to turn themselves in.
Footage of the incident at the nightclub shows Liu Xintong pointing at the policeman and saying, “That’s him,” gesticulating and talking to the thugs who were engaged in the altercation.
According to an acquaintance of Liu’s, she was a student at Aletheia University, but then changed to Kainan University, in Taoyuan County. She began working at a club, and because of her beauty she attracted many customers. She could earn up to 8000 NT$ per night. Her acquaintance stated that she had a bad temper, was “arrogant and willful“, and had a “princess complex.”
Liu Xintong used to carry a 200,000 NT$ Chanel bag, wear a 100,000 NT$ Panerai wrist watch, and drive a Mercedes. She wanted others to believe that she came from a rich family and her father was a successful businessman. In reality, her family isn’t well off, and her father is just an ordinary worker. When he was informed that his daughter had got into trouble, he simply replied: “The kid has become bad. She can learn a good lesson now. She’s still young, she still has the chance to start over again.“
On the contrary, the main suspect, Zeng Weihao, is the scion of a wealthy family. He lives in an opulent mansion in Xinyi District, has five cars, wears clothes from famous brands. He went to study in Australia and after returning to Taiwan found a good job with a high salary. “His family don’t just have money,” said the police. “They have a lot of money.“