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Northern school campuses remain closed to public amid fugitive scare

05/22/2024 08:00 PM
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The convicted man on the run is seen in this CCTV footage on Monday. Photo courtesy of New Taipei City Police Department May 22, 2024
The convicted man on the run is seen in this CCTV footage on Monday. Photo courtesy of New Taipei City Police Department May 22, 2024

Taipei, May 22 (CNA) The campuses of high schools, elementary schools and preschools in northern Taiwan will remain closed to the public until further notice after a fugitive, who escaped from custodial protection on Sunday, was reportedly seen in the vicinity, local governments announced Wednesday.

School campuses in Taiwan are generally open to the public during non-school hours, and those in Taipei were initially scheduled to reopen on Wednesday after a one-day closure due to the incident.

However, after parents expressed concern that the man, who was convicted of attempted murder, could potentially hide on campuses and attack their children, the city's Department of Education said the provisional closure order will be extended until he is apprehended.

Update: School campuses to reopen Thursday after escaped fugitive caught

Students' routines will not be affected, the department's deputy head Chen Su-hui (陳素慧) said, adding that more security patrols will be carried out during the day.

Meanwhile, the department's New Taipei counterpart also followed suit, after an announcement a day earlier detailing temporary campus closures in Wanli, Xizhi, Pingxi and Ruifang districts.

Later in the day, Keelung and Yilan County took the same move.

The fugitive, identified as Chien Yu-hung (簡郁紘), escaped from a secure facility at a Keelung hospital on May 19, where he was receiving court-ordered treatment for mental illness, police said.

The 39-year-old was found guilty in August 2023 of attempted murder after assaulting a pedestrian with a glass bottle seven months earlier.

Following Chien's diagnosis of schizophrenia, Taipei District Court sentenced him to five years of medical guardianship to be followed by a three-year prison sentence.

According to police, Chien is currently most likely in Taipei's Wanhua District, after traveling across the Greater Taipei area, including Badouzi fishing port, Ruifang and Songshan districts using various types of public transport.

Tracking Chien, who has no money or cellphone, has been challenging because he seems to have "wandered aimlessly," police said.

The fact that he has been mostly traveling on foot and utilizing the shelter of covered walkways to avoid surveillance cameras is also complicating the investigation, according to police.

(By Wang Chao-yu, Chen Yu-ting, Huang Li-yun and Lee Hsin-Yin)

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