Who is ‘Rashid’? Sabah cops cling on to slim lead over child hostage suspect

Omar said no one has stepped forward to claim the suspect’s body so far. — Bernama pic
Omar said no one has stepped forward to claim the suspect’s body so far. — Bernama pic

KOTA KINABALU, Jan 14 — After a day of scrambling for leads on yesterday’s fatal five-hour hostage incident, police are no closer to identifying their suspect, but they do have a name which could possibly shed light on his motive: “Rashid”.

Sabah police commissioner Datuk Omar Mammah said that no one has stepped forward to claim the suspect’s body, no identification was found on him, and their forensics department is still trying to retrieve data from his cellphone.

“From our investigation so far, he is unknown to the victim’s family, and a majority of the people in the apartment who we asked. So far, it appears to be a random case of how he picked his victim but we cannot tell what his motive was.

“During the police negotiations with him, he did say one name — Rashid. But he didn’t mention anything else, just the name, so we will check to see if there is any leads into this,” said Omar.

The rest of the case is still pending medical reports and the post-mortem, including whether the suspect, a man in his 30s who spoke in the Suluk dialect, was high on drugs when he committed the act.

Yesterday, police shot the unidentified suspect in a four-storey flat at the Telipok Ria apartments about 29km from here at 5.30pm after a five-hour standoff.

Eyewitnesses said that the incident began at 12.30pm when the suspect walked around the fourth floor of the building, holding a knife, and grabbed a three-year-old girl who was playing along the corridor and took her into an apartment unit.

Chaos ensued when residents tried to intervene and rescue the child, but to no avail, until about 4pm, when police arrived at the scene and used an interpreter to try to negotiate.

It was when he threatened to throw the child out of the window that police shot the suspect.

“The victim is currently recuperating at the Likas Women and Children’s hospital and is in stable condition. She spoke a little when I went to see her last night and was asking for her mother,” said Omar.

He said that early observations suggest that the victim was selected at random, and she sustained light cuts from the knife that was held at her neck the entire time.

He also said that after the incident, which took place at a low-cost, high density development, police would step up frequency of patrols to the area.

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