BEIJING (AP) — The suspect in a car crash that killed five children wanted to kill himself and deliberately targeted a crowd walking outside a primary school in northeastern China, officials said Friday, in what appeared to be the latest in a pattern of vehicle attacks.
The 29-year-old driver is an introvert and wanted to kill himself because he was having a row with his wife, according to a Jianchang county statement that an official read over the phone to the AP. The suspect was identified only by his surname, Han.
Security camera footage of Thursday’s attack showed a vehicle swerving into children who had almost finished crossing a street in front of their school before driving off. In addition to the dead, 19 people were injured, three of them seriously, the Jianchang statement said. Most of the victims were between 5 and 7 years old.
The school is in the city of Huludao in Liaoning province.
The driver was arrested shortly after the crash. Photos posted by the police online showed him being taken from his vehicle, which appeared to have crashed into a ditch, and being brought to a police station restrained by several officers.
He chose to target the children randomly, the statement said.
China has seen a series of attacks in which people described as mentally ill or alienated and angry have targeted pedestrians with vehicles.
Last month, a knife-wielding man drove a vehicle into a crowd in the eastern city of Ningbo, killing two people and wounding 16.
And in September, 11 people were killed and 44 hospitalized after a man drove an SUV into people at a plaza in the central province of Hunan then jumped out and attacked victims with a dagger and shovel.
Other deadly attacks have occurred at or just outside schools, including several in 2010 in which nearly 20 children were killed, prompting schools nationwide to beef up security.
Despite that, in June, a man used a kitchen knife to attack three boys and a mother near a school in Shanghai, killing two of the children. Last year, a man set off an explosion at the front gate of a kindergarten in eastern China, as relatives gathered to pick up their children at the end of the day. That attack killed eight people.