The Case Of Le Qian

(Youth Weekly)  The Mystery of the Female Deputy Editor-in-Chief Being Assaulted Outside Her Home.  November 26, 2009.

"Let's see you report it!  Let's see you report it!"  The attacker said fiercely even as he beat her up.

On the evening of November 21, the Hebei Youth Daily executive Deputy Editor-in-Chief Le Qian was assaulted on the ground floor of her Shijiazhuang building and sustained serious injuries.  If it were not for the fact that a neighbor came out just in time, the consequences would be unimaginable.

The police said that they will pursue this case all the way because it is a terrible thing to assault a senior manager for a news media outlet.  Why did the attacker pick on the deputy editor-in-chief who was going home by herself?  Was this a chance incident, or was it intentional retaliation against some piece of reporting?

At around 20:20 on November 21, Le Qian did some shopping and returned to her home in a certain neighborhood in Shijiazhuang.  The security guard found a parking space for Le Qian.  Then she proceeded back to her residence.  While waiting for the elevator at the ground floor of her apartment building, an unidentified man suddenly charged at her from behind and hammered her head and face.  Le Qian was surprised by this unexpected attack.  She dropped her food, mineral water and other purchases on the ground.  She could only use her hands to cover her head and scream for help.

"If I did not come out in time, who knows how much more beating would have taken place!"  Ms. Lei lives in the same building as Le Qian.  As she recalled the situation that night, she was still filled with terror.

"I thought that a married couple was having an argument.  But as soon as I heard that she was asking for help to save her life, I thought that this was a serious matter!"  Ms. Lei opened her apartment door.  She thought that she was going to quell a quarrel, but it turned out to be something much more serious.  The appearance of Ms. Lei scared the attacker away.

"I was watching television inside my apartment.  I heard some sounds in the corridor.  Then I heard sounds of fighting.  A woman was yelling, 'What are you doing?  Who are you?'  Then I heard the woman scream, 'Save my life.'"  When Ms. Lei opened the door, the sight stunned her: The woman was coiled up in the corner with her head towards the elevator.  The right side of her face was covered with blood.  The boxed dinner and a case of mineral water bottles bought from the supermarket were scattered on the ground.  "A man was holding half a red brick in his hand.  As soon as he saw me, he discarded the brick and ran away.  The woman asked me, 'Do you know who he is?'  Then I realized that this was a serious matter."

Ms. Lei said that it was dark in the corridor with no electric lights.  When the man dashed out, she could only see his back.  "He wore dark-colored clothes.  His hair was very short.  He ran very fast."  Her first reaction was to see to the injuries on the woman.  "I did not imagine that she would be so brave as to get up and give chase.  She put her hand on the wound in her face and she yelled as she ran.  She called the security guards to arrest the evildoer."

Ms. Lei said that she had not been acquainted with Le Qian.  She lives on the ground floor, which means that she would not have come across Le Qian in the elevator.  So this was the first time that she has seen Le Qian.  There are three units on the ground floor.  One unit is an office and the workers there have gone home.  There was no one home in the second unit.  So I was the only person there.  If I had not opened the door and came out, her injuries would be even more severe."  Ms. Lei told the reporter that the police spoke to her that same evening about what happened.  They also put the brick weapon into a bag and took it away.

On November 22, Le Qian recalled what happened:

It was past 8pm when I did my shopping at the supermarket and returned to the residential area.  At the time, I was holding mineral water bottles and food in my hand.  When I got to the elevator, the mobile telephone in my coat pocket rang.  I put the mineral water bottles on the ground to take out my mobile phone.  At that moment, the elevator arrived.  As I went to reach for the mineral water bottles, I sensed someone coming in quickly from outside the building.  Since my head was lowered, I did not look at him.

This person quickly came to my side.  At first, I did not even realized that he hit me.  I was just dazed. Then I realized what was happening and I used my hands to ward off the hard object.  But he continued to hit my head and face.  At the instant that I fell down on the ground, I saw that my attacker was a man in dark clothes.  I did not recognize his face.  Because I was on the ground, I could not estimate his height too accurately.  Later on, they determined from the surveillance video tape that he may be taller than 1.70 meters.

After I fell down, I kicked fiercely at my attacker.  The attack lasted more than 20 seconds.  I was hit by a hard object more than twenty times.  As he hit me, he kept yelling, "Let's see you report it!  Let's see you report it!"  Afterwards, they found more than a dozen injuries on my body.  My face was covered with blood, which was dripping down through the cracks of my finger as I placed my hand on the wounds.

Later on, I heard that the security guards almost caught the evildoer.  The security guards could not catch him immediately.  They chased him for several hundred meters outside the residential compound before losing him.

The police came to investigate and found a small piece of brick as well as blood on the ground.  The wounds on my face appeared to have been caused by a brick.  The preliminary supposition is that the evildoer attacked me with the brick.

When Le Qian's colleagues rushed to the scene, they were stunned by the tragic sight: The right side of Le Qian's face was wounded with blood pouring out onto her clothes.  Her left check and eye showed greenish-black bruises.  The wound on her lip was also bleeding profusely with swelling around.  She was experiencing difficulty in speaking.  Le Qian's face sustained many injuries.

According to the doctor in charge, the preliminary diagnosis was that there was a V-shaped injury on the right cheekbone that reached as deep down as the bone.  The left cheekbone was bruised.  There is a 2.5 millimeter long wound on the lower lip that reached into the muscle tissues.  Le Qian received 8 stitches on the mouth and 6 stitches on the face.  She lost consciousness temporarily during the course of treatment.

Afterwards, our reporter located the security guard who was the first to spot the attacker and tried to apprehend him.  This young man wore badge number SJ0010, but he did not want his name known.  He said that he was patrolling the area when someone dashed out of a building.  A woman followed while yelling, "Help!"  He quickly gave chase while using his walkie-talkie to tell the main gate guard to intercept the man.  But the man ran very quickly and dashed out of the main gate onto the road.  "We gave chase until we reached a cross intersection.  We ran in the westerly direction for a while but did not see anyone.  We turned back in the easterly direction, but we did not find anyone."

From the scene of the attack to the main gate is an L-shaped corridor about 150 meters long.  The main entrance has a barrier and a guard house.  The surveillance monitors in the guard house show images from the major corners of the area.  The security guard on duty said that the attacker was captured on video, but the police have taken the tape away.  "When I watched the video, the man was wearing a cap and black clothes."  This was what the security guard who first spotted the attacker said.  At this point, the description of the evildoer was: age 30 to 35, height 1.72m to 1.75m, wearing a baseball gap.

On the night of the incident, Shijiazhuang city public security bureau Qiaoxi station chief Meng Jianzhong went to see Le Qian at the hospital.  Chief Meng said that it is a terrible thing when a senior media manager gets attacked.  As the police for that jurisdiction, they will purse the case all the way.  The police will do everything possible to apprehend the perpetrator irrespective of the identity of the person or his background.  The Qiaoxi station has collected the relevant evidence that night and established a special case squad.  The Hebei province public security bureau has also joined the investigation.

So who perpetrated the attack?  Was there a mastermind behind the scene?  Since the attacker was not apprehended at the scene, there is no direct evidence that can be used to analyze the cause.  In spite of this, there are certain clues that occurred before this incident that may fuel speculation.

According to Le Qian's recollection, the attacker kept hitting her head during the assault.  There was no attempt to seize her mobile phone or the wallet in her coat pocket.  Therefore, robbery can be ruled out as the motive.

In 2006, Le Qian came from Beijing Youth Daily to work at Hebei Youth Daily.  Because of her heavy workload, she does not have many social friends in Shijiazhuang.  Not only that, but her position as the executive deputy editor-in-chief meant that she was responsible for the daily news gathering and reporting there.  Basically, her life was spent between her newspaper office and her apartment.  She has little or no contact with any place or person not related to her work.

"I don't have any relatives in Zhejiazhuang.  Apart from news work, I don't have any social relationships.  That man was saying 'Let's see you report it' while he assaulted me.  I think that maybe some piece of watchdog journalism in the Hebei Youth Daily might have offended somebody."  After the attack, the first reaction of Le Qian and many of her colleagues was that it must be related to some recent piece of watchdog journalism in the newspaper.  Before this attack, the newspaper had received a threatening phone call.  At around 14:00 on November 7, a woman called the newspaper's hotline and issued threats against the newspaper leaders for watchdog journalism.  When the reporter who answered the phone asked which specific piece was the problem, the woman did not reply.  She said a few more nasty words and hung up.

According to an incomplete tally, Hebei Youth Daily has experienced at least 10 instances in which their normal reporting activities were interfered with between 2006 and 2009.

On November 4 this year, the newspaper published the report <Sealed corn sausage packages had maggots inside> based upon a hotline tip from a reader.  This report involves a consumer rights incident at a certain large supermarket chain in Shijiazhuang.  On the day when the report came out, several dozen supermarket workers congregated in front of the newspaper office building.  On November 5, 6, 7 and 9, the blockade continued involving as many as several hundred supermarket workers.  The matter was put under control after the public security bureau intervened directly.

On October 16, the reporter Liu Fei was gathering news on a fire at a leatheroid factory in Xizhaotong.  He was assaulted by persons claiming to be Xizhaotong security patrol members, who took away his camera, batteries and memory cards.  On June 24, photojournalist Zhu Bing went to cover a fire at the Xinyuan Building at the Xinhuaji Trade Market and was assaulted by unidentified persons.  He was beaten unconscious twice and hospitalized.  On May 28, reporters Xu Fei and Li Qiang were forcibly detained during their investigation of the silicon tetrachloride leakage in Yuting town, Xiantang county and had to be rescued by the police.  On May 24, photojournalist Cui Jing was covering the incident at the elevated bridge at Friendship Street and Huai'an Road when he was attacked by the construction crew who took away his camera.  On October 29, 2008, reporters Li Qiang, Ren Li, Liu Feiyue and Li Jie went to Zhao County to investigate the matter of town cadres playing mahjong and were surrounded and attacked by unidentified persons.  The reporters were injured and hospitalized and two cameras were vandalized.  In 2007 ...

Hebei Youth Daily social news section chief editor Jia Jiangwei said that the newspaper has always paid close attention to issues of livelihood and public interest.  "When we make our reports, we name the criticized companies and principals.  We also publish the real names of the reporters who gathered the news and wrote the report.  Some people may get upset."  Jia Jiangwei said that they publish watchdog reports almost daily, involving government departments, businesses, corporations and individuals.  Hebei Youth Daily deputy editor-in-chief Zhao Weijiang said that the attack on Le Qian not only involved physical injuries on her but also attitudes among their workers.  "A wound can be healed.  But mentally speaking, how do you restore the mentality and attitudes?"