CHONGQING, Aug. 14 A fugitive gunman who allegedly killed 9 people was shot dead by police in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality Tuesday morning, allowing the country to let out a collective sigh of relief.
The gunman, Zhou Kehua, was killed by police at an alley in Tongjiaqiao Village, Shapingba District of Chongqing, where he was believed to be hiding, at 6:50 a.m., according to police officers with the city's Municipal Public Security Bureau.
The latest development came four days after Chongqing launched an intensified manhunt for the 42-year-old man, who was described by local police authorities as "ruthless and highly dangerous."
The manhunt came after Zhou allegedly gunned down one and wounded two others in front of a bank outlet in Shapingba on Friday.
The city's police officials said two plainclothes officers spotted Zhou on a street at 6:45 a.m. Zhou shot at them three times after realizing he was being followed. He was later besieged, and died after being hit with four bullets.
Wang Xiaoyu, one of the policemen who shot Zhou, said he was attacked first when Zhou realized he was being followed.
"He was less than three meters ahead of us," Wang recalled, saying Zhou's first shot missed him by about a centimeter.
"I could even feel his cartridge case bounce onto my leg," the police officer said.
Wang said Zhou hid behind a utility pole as shots were fired from both sides. "The pistol he was using was an imitation Type 54 pistol, so it was less powerful than ours," he added.
Police later found another pistol, three loaded bullet clips, some bullets and over 10,000 yuan (about 1,600 U.S. dollars) in cash in Zhou's knapsack at the scene.
Zhou's death was a relief for China's public security officers, who were under great pressure to nab him as soon as possible.
On Monday, police in Chongqing and the neighboring provinces of Sichuan and Guizhou were told to suspend their vacations and remain on high alert amid growing alarm and panic in the country.
Deputy Minister of Public Security Zhang Xinfeng traveled to Chongqing to supervise and lead the manhunt.
Chongqing public security authorities said that Zhou's DNA information, provided by police in Jiangsu Province, and his physical description, provided by police in Changsha, Hunan Province, laid a "solid foundation" for the operation.
Zhou had been found in the two provinces in the past, but fled. Crews of criminal experts from Hunan and Jiangsu arrived in Chongqing to assist in the hunt.
Photos released by Chongqing police after the operation showed Zhou in a blue T-shirt and a pair of suit pants lying in a pool of blood with at least one visible bullet hole in his head and a mobile phone, a pair of sunglasses and a small knapsack near his body.
Crowds of local residents, who were once gripped by the terror created by the alleged serial killer, were seen standing along nearby streets, watching a police vehicle carrying Zhou's body leave the scene.
The alleged killer became infamous for robbing people withdrawing money from banks and repeatedly dodging police manhunts.
Officials said the "Class-A" suspect wanted by the Ministry of Public Security shot nine people dead and injured five others over the past eight years. The latest victim was a Chongqing police officer who was trying to stop and question Zhou before he was shot over the weekend.
The bounty placed on Zhou hit 5.4 million yuan before his death, according to media reports.
The killing was also a relief for the common people throughout the country who feared Zhou may one day sneak into their cities and attack them.
At the scene of his death, a local resident surnamed Wang, one of the hundreds of people standing outside the cordoned-off police scene, told Xinhua that he felt greatly relieved by the news.
"We heard that the suspect was besieged in Shapingba, which disturbed us very much," he said. "His death is definitely a great relief."
Bloggers on China's Twitter-like microblogging website Sina Weibo also expressed their great sense of relief, saying Chongqing police "have done a great job."
"Finally, we are not afraid of going to the bank!" wrote blogger "Youmuminyoji" in Chongqing.
In a country where the private possession of firearms is banned, crimes involving firearms, though rare, often trigger a sensation.
Minutes after police killed the gunman, Zhou's name again appeared as a buzz word in Chinese media. Stories of how the life of a "smart rural kid who liked reading detective stories" ended with him as an alleged armed robber and a killer flooded cyberspace.
Police confirmed that the Chongqing Municipal Public Security Bureau was praised and honored by Minister of Public Security Meng Jianzhu immediately after the operation.