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Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Murder-suicide - Investigators reported that Tang was distraught over family problems
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: August 9, 2008
Date of birth: 1961
Victim profile: Todd Bachman, 62 (American tourist)
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife
Location: Beijing, China
Status: Committed suicide by jumping from a 40-metre (130 ft) high balcony on the Drum Tower

2008 Beijing Drum Tower stabbings

On August 9, 2008 in Beijing, People's Republic of China, two American tourists and their Chinese tour guide were stabbed at the historic Drum Tower; one of the tourists was killed. The assailant then committed suicide by jumping from the tower.

The incident occurred during the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. The incident has been described as isolated since attacks on foreigners while visiting China are rare.

Events and victims

Three people were stabbed in Beijing, China, on August 9, 2008, by 47-year-old Tang Yongming of Hangzhou, while visiting the 13th-century Drum Tower in Beijing during the 2008 Summer Olympics.

The victims were Todd Bachman, a prominent horticulturalist from Lakeville, Minnesota, his wife Barbara, and their female Chinese national tour guide. Todd Bachman, who died in the attack, was the father of American athlete Elisabeth Bachman and the father-in-law of Team USA men's volleyball coach Hugh McCutcheon. Barbara Bachman was severely wounded but survived the attack. The attacker then leaped to his death from a 40-metre (130 ft) high balcony on the Drum Tower. US Olympic Committee Chairman Peter Ueberroth and US President George W. Bush both offered their condolences.


Tang Yongming spent most of his life in the outskirts of Hangzhou, and was a metal presser at the Hangzhou Meter Factory for more than twenty years. He had no previous criminal record, according to investigators. Investigators reported that Tang was distraught over family problems.

A colleague who knew Tang said that he had "an unyielding mouth", "grumbled a great deal", and was "very cynical". Another former co-worker said Tang 'had a quick temper and was always complaining about society". Police report that Tang went through his second divorce in 2006 and grew increasingly despondent when his 21-year-old son started getting into trouble. The son was detained in May 2007 on suspicion of fraud, then received a suspended prison sentence in March 2008 for theft.


A Stabbing Rooted in Loss and Despair

By Andrew Jacobs - The New York Times

August 10, 2008

BEIJING — Tang Yongming was like countless other middle-aged, marginally skilled men struggling to find their way in the new China. Laid off from a meter factory in the central city of Hangzhou, Mr. Tang, 47, found himself idle, broke and living alone in a rented room with no furniture and no future.

Friends and former co-workers said he had become angry and unmoored as he watched China’s surging economy roar ahead without him.

But even though Mr. Tang had moments of despair and frustration, those who knew him were at a loss to explain why he attacked a couple of American tourists and their Chinese guide on Saturday, fatally stabbing a 62-year-old man and slashing the others before leaping to his death from the balcony of the Drum Tower, one of Beijing’s best-known historic monuments.

Todd Bachman, a Minnesota businessman whose son-in-law coaches the men’s volleyball team, was killed. His wife, Barbara, 62, was critically wounded, as was the guide, whose name has not been released.

The attack, on the first day of the Olympic Games, punctured the feel-good bubble that had enveloped Beijing since the opening ceremonies on Friday night. Although the episode received modest coverage in the Chinese media, it has been widely discussed among local residents and foreign visitors, many of whom said they were stunned that such an act of brutality could have occurred amid the city’s thick blanket of security.

President Hu Jintao, meeting Sunday with President Bush, expressed condolences to the victims and their families and said the police would fully investigate. “The Chinese side takes this unfortunate incident very seriously,” he said.

The killing has provoked hand-wringing and debate on the Internet. Some people fretted that it could tarnish China’s moment of Olympic glory, while others used Mr. Tang’s murderous outburst to rail against a variety of unattended social ills: mental illness, chronic unemployment among laid-off state workers and the rise of xenophobic nationalism.

One widely circulated posting, written anonymously on a popular Web site, seemed to capture the prevailing worry that Mr. Tang’s crime would harm China’s image: “Your actions have hurt not just two Americans, but they have hurt the way Americans will view China during the Games, the way all the people of the world will view China. The bright dream of these momentous Olympics has been darkened by you.”

Much of the debate and the supposition about his motives have been swirling in a vacuum of substantial information. Mr. Tang was unemployed and arrived in Beijing on Aug. 1 for reasons that remain unclear. The only thing he left behind, investigators said, was the government-issued identification card in his pocket.

The Chinese police have painted him as a man turned desperate by personal shortcomings. “He had lost all hope after a series of failures in his life and took his anger out on society,” the police said, according to Xinhua, the state news agency.

Mr. Tang had no criminal record, investigators said, nor was he among the crowds of aggrieved citizens, so-called petitioners, who flock to the capital to file official appeals to the central government.

On the outskirts of Hangzhou, where Mr. Tang spent most of his life, neighbors and former co-workers said he was often disgruntled and prone to argument. “He grumbled a great deal, very cynical,” Zhang Liping, a former colleague, said. “He had an unyielding mouth.”

They agreed that Mr. Tang typified the many working men cast aside by ailing state-run industries. He was angry at being left behind by China’s headlong rush into an economy that lacked the succors of the Socialist past. “He had a quick temper and was always complaining about society,” said a former co-worker, who would only give his nickname, Aqing.

Mr. Tang worked as a metal presser at the Hangzhou Meter Factory for more than two decades. When a private company bought the plant five or six years ago, his job was transferred elsewhere and Mr. Tang was demoted to guard at the factory gate. In 2004, colleagues said, he lost that job for reasons that were not clear.

In 2006, his wife, who also worked at the meter factory, divorced him. Mr. Tang sold his house and rented a room nearby in Hengjie, a once-rural town that has become absorbed into Hangzhou’s industrial sprawl. Xinhua, quoting the police, said Mr. Tang’s 21-year-old son spent the money from the sale of the home. Last year the son was arrested for fraud and later received a six-month sentence for burglary.

Jiang Beigen, his landlord, said Mr. Tang paid $53 a month for an unfurnished room. According to Mr. Jiang and other tenants, Mr. Tang seemed to own only one shirt and a single pair of pants, both of which he washed by hand at night. He had no job, they said, and often slept late into the day.

Last week, Mr. Tang announced he was leaving town. According to the police, he called his son that evening and told him he would not be returning until he found success.

Reporting was contributed by Steven Lee Myers, and research by Dado Derviskadic, Fan Wenxin and Zhan Yingying.


The victim

Todd Bachman, 62.



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