Monday, 1 June 2015

Shangri-La shooting: Terrorism ruled out

Police identify man shot dead and two arrested
The Straits Times, 1 Jun 2015

Police have identified the man shot dead in the incident at the Shangri-la Hotel as Mohamed Taufik Zahar.

The 34-year-old Singaporean was the driver of the car that crashed through barriers near the hotel early on Sunday where a high-level security summit was taking place, the Singapore Police Force said in a statement early on Monday morning.

The two passengers in the car who were arrested were identified as Mohamed Ismail, 31, and Muhammad Syahid Mohamed Yasin, 26, police said. Both are also Singaporeans.

The former sustained injuries during the incident but was conscious when taken to hospital. Substances believed to be controlled drugs and an item, believed to be a drug-taking utensil, were found on the two men who were arrested, police said. They found no weapons on the three subjects.

CONSOLIDATED UPDATE TO INCIDENT ALONG ORANGE GROVE ROADA dash through incident was reported at 4.36am on 31 May 2015...
Posted by Singapore Police Force on Sunday, May 31, 2015


At around 4.30am on Sunday at a highly secured checkpoint along Ardmore Park, the three men in a red Subaru Impreza defied orders to allow police to check the boot of the car.

Instead, the 34-year-old driver tried to make a run for it and crashed the car through the barricades. "Despite police warnings to stop, the driver continued to crash through police barricades, endangering the lives of the officers. Police opened fire at the vehicle to stop further danger," a police spokesman said.

The car, which had a single bullet hole in the front windscreen, came to a stop on a grass patch barely 250m from the entrance of the Shangri-La Hotel. The driver was pronounced dead at the scene. It was the first time in seven years that police have had to open fire, with the last incident - involving a knife-wielding man who continued to advance on an officer at Outram Park MRT station - occurring in 2008.

Police said the deceased man was wanted for failing to attend court for an offence of criminal intimidation, involvement in drugs and has other criminal records.

Ismail is also wanted for drug related offences and for failing to stop at a roadblock. Both he and Muhammad Syahid Mohamed Yasin have drug related offences and criminal records.

The two men are being investigated by the Central Narcotics Bureau and will be charged in court today for a drug trafficking offence.






Passengers in shooting case near Shangri-La Hotel charged with heroin trafficking
By Amir Hussain, The Straits Times, 1 Jun 2015

Two passengers in the car that crashed through police barriers near the Shangri-La Hotel in the wee hours of Sunday were charged in court with heroin trafficking on Monday.

Mohamed Ismail, 31, and Muhammad Syahid Mohamed Yasin, 26, were both charged with possessing three packets of approximately 9g of heroin for the purpose of trafficking.

The men will be remanded for a week to facilitate investigations into possible further offences.

Mohamed Ismail, who sustained injuries during the incident but was conscious when taken to hospital, was charged via videolink.

The duo were arrested after the driver of the red Subaru Impreza car they were in was shot dead by police at around 4.30am on Sunday.

The driver, Mohamed Taufik Zahar, 34, defied orders to allow police to check the boot of the car and made a run for it, crashing the car through police barricades.

The area around Shangri-La Hotel had been placed under a tight security net, given that it was hosting a major security summit attended by defence ministers and security chiefs.

The police then opened fire at the vehicle. The car, which had a single bullet hole in the front windscreen, came to a stop on a grass patch barely 250m from the entrance of the Shangri-La Hotel. The driver was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police said the deceased man was wanted for failing to attend court for an offence of criminal intimidation. He also has previous drug offences and other criminal records.

Ismail is also wanted for drug related offences and for failing to stop at a roadblock. Both he and Muhammad Syahid Mohamed Yasin have previous drug related offences and criminal records.

If convicted, Ismail and Syahid face between 5 and 15 years' imprisonment and between 5 and 15 strokes of the cane.





Shangri-La shooting: Suspect faces fresh charge
By Elena Chong, The Straits Times, 9 Jun 2015

A PASSENGER in the car that was shot at after it crashed through security barriers near Shangri-La Hotel was charged yesterday with abetting the driver to commit a rash act.

Muhammad Syahid Mohamed Yasin, 26, is alleged to have shouted "jalan jalan" (Malay for "go, go") to the driver, Mohamad Taufik Zahar alias Ben, 34, causing him to drive in a fast manner towards two police officers.

The red Subaru Impreza crashed into a concrete barrier near police officers Mohamad Zahid Suhaimi and See Toa Chew Yin at around 4.15am along Ardmore Park on May 31.

The car, which had a single bullet hole in the front windscreen, came to a stop on a grass patch barely 250m from the hotel entrance. Taufik died on the spot.

The area around the hotel had been placed under a tight security net as it was hosting the Shangri- La Dialogue, a major security summit attended by defence ministers and security chiefs.

Syahid and co-accused Mohamed Ismail, 31, were charged last week with jointly trafficking in heroin, by having three packets of about 9g of heroin along Orange Grove Road that morning.

Mohamed's charge was read to him in hospital as he was wounded during the incident.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Yang Ziliang applied for the duo to be remanded for another week at Central Police Division for investigations to be completed.

He is also asking for DNA and consumption reports.

District Judge Eddy Tham granted the application and fixed the case for mention again next Monday.

The maximum penalty for drug trafficking is 20 years' jail and 15 strokes of the cane.

For abetment to commit a rash act, the punishment is six months' jail and a $2,500 fine.










<<Bomb Squad at the Shangri-La Incident>> The other procedure the Singapore Police Force did right in the Shangri-La...
Posted by Ng Eng Hen on Sunday, May 31, 2015





Shangri-La shooting: Terrorism ruled out
Failed checkpoint breach near hotel likely to be drug-related
By Danson Cheong, The Straits Times, 1 Jun 2015

THE failed breach of a security checkpoint barely 250m from the venue of the Shangri-La Dialogue yesterday morning, when one man was shot dead and two arrested, may have eventually been found to be drug-related.


Only after a bomb squad confirmed that there were no weapons or explosives in the car was the all-clear given, and traffic, which was held up at a safe distance behind a cordon, allowed to resume. At about 11.30am, Orange Grove Road, Anderson Road and Ardmore Park were reopened.

"If there was an improvised explosive device detected, the implications would have been very sobering and serious for Singapore," added the minister.

The area around Shangri-La Hotel had been placed under a tight security net, given that it was hosting a major security summit attended by defence ministers and security chiefs.

At around 4.30am at a highly secured checkpoint along Ardmore Park, three Singaporean men in a red Subaru Impreza defied orders to allow police to check the boot of the car.

Instead, the 34-year-old driver tried to make a run for it and crashed the car through the barricades. "Despite police warnings to stop, the driver continued to crash through police barricades, endangering the lives of the officers. Police opened fire at the vehicle to stop further danger," a police spokesman said.

The car, which had a single bullet hole in the front windscreen, came to a stop on a grass patch barely 250m from the entrance of the Shangri-La Hotel. The driver was pronounced dead at the scene. It was the first time in seven years that police have had to open fire, with the last incident - involving a knife-wielding man who continued to advance on an officer at Outram Park MRT station - occurring in 2008.

The two passengers, aged 26 and 31, were arrested. The latter was wounded and taken to hospital. Police later searched the vehicle and found a bag containing a white powdery substance - believed to be drugs - and drug paraphernalia.

The police yesterday said two of the men, including the driver, were wanted by the authorities, but added little more, declining to answer queries on their identities or how many shots were fired.



The Shangri-La Hotel was locked down briefly in the wake of the incident. Vehicles, delegates and the media were not allowed to enter the hotel from around 7.30am. But this is believed to have lasted for just 30 minutes and the three-day summit ended yesterday afternoon as scheduled.

Speaking to reporters, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said the police swiftly brought the situation under control.

"The investigations so far indicate that the situation is related to drugs," he said, adding that the police would deal firmly with lawbreakers to maintain public safety and security.

The incident came just days after the revelation that a local 19-year-old student had been detained under the Internal Security Act as he wanted to join the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria terror group. It was also reported last week that the group had identified Singapore as a possible target.

"All Singaporeans are thankful that it (a terror attack) did not happen this time, but with the threat of extremist terrorism, we must all be prepared if an actual terrorist plot does occur," said Dr Ng.




UPDATE TO INCIDENT ALONG ORANGE GROVE ROADPolice and officers from Singapore Armed Forces' (SAF) Chemical, Biological,...
Posted by Singapore Police Force on Saturday, May 30, 2015





Driver and a passenger were wanted by the authorities
Possible drugs in car may also have been why they made a run for it
By Janice Heng And Jermyn Chow, The Straits Times, 1 Jun 2015

OF THE three men involved in yesterday's shooting at a security checkpoint, two, including the 34-year-old driver who was shot dead, were wanted by the authorities for various offences.


The fact that the authorities were on the lookout for them, and that they possibly had drugs in the car, could have been why the men decided to make a run for it when told to stop for a police check along Ardmore Park.

But many online were still left wondering why the men had decided to travel on that road, given the security lockdown to protect the high-profile Shangri-La Dialogue being held at the nearby Shangri-La Hotel.

There were some who questioned the necessity of shooting the driver. Asked Facebook user Au Kah Kay: "Was excessive force being used? Couldn't the shots have been fired at the car tyres?"

Another commenter, Yeo Tiong Lin, asked if there would be an inquiry into the incident.

But netizens widely applauded the police's swift reaction.

The Singapore Police Force's Facebook updates on the situation drew hundreds of comments, most of them praising the police for a job "well done".

Everything at the Shangri-La Dialogue went on as normal except for the brief lockdown of the area in the morning, which some there said lasted for about half an hour. It was business as usual inside the hotel, as nearly 500 delegates, including 26 defence chiefs, continued to discuss defence issues during the last day of the three-day summit organised by the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

Some did not even know of the shooting until much later.

"When the police stopped us outside the hotel, they didn't explain why. Some people thought it was just a minor accident. We found out what happened only through the online news websites," said Mr Daniel He, a Hong Kong-based journalist who was covering the Shangri-La Dialogue.

The international press swiftly picked up the story, focusing on the shooting's proximity to the Shangri-La Dialogue. American news outlet CNN, for instance, went with the headline "Police shoot man outside summit US defence secretary attended".

But foreign coverage trailed off once it appeared that the incident was unrelated to the summit.

Even as the dialogue got under way, the red Subaru Impreza remained where it came to a stop, under a tree barely 250m from the Shangri-La Hotel.

The car's windscreen had a single bullet hole, and looked like it had crashed into something, with its bonnet badly dented.

The police had put up privacy screens to keep curious onlookers away, but the blue tent containing the body of the driver was visible under the screens. His body was removed only at about 11am.

An hour later, the Subaru was towed away - the only trace it left were faint tyre marks on the grass.




<<Well done Home Team - Shangri-La incident>> The hundreds of delegates who attended the Shangri-La Dialogue might not...
Posted by Ng Eng Hen on Sunday, May 31, 2015





Checkpoint shooting justified, say former police officers
By Danson Cheong, The Straits Times, 1 Jun 2015

OFFICERS who opened fire to stop three men in a red Subaru Impreza from forcing their way through a checkpoint along Ardmore Park yesterday morning had every justification to do so, said former police officers.

Not only were the lives of the officers manning the checkpoint in danger, but with a high-level security conference going on at the nearby Shangri-La Hotel, nothing would have been left to chance, according to retired Criminal Investigation Department detective station inspector Lim Ah Soon.

Last week's news that a local 19-year-old student, recently detained under the Internal Security Act, wanted to join the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria terror group, which has reportedly identified Singapore as a possible target, meant that the police would be on even higher alert, he added.

"Officers had to physically check the car to ensure there were no weapons or explosives on board," said the 70-year-old, who was with the force for 28 years.

"When the men defied the order to stop, the officers had to suspect the worst. If the car was not stopped and made it to the conference, it could have been much worse," he said.

He added that officers are trained to shoot and immobilise moving targets.

In a statement released yesterday, the police said that when the 34-year-old driver of the car was asked to open the car boot for checks, he accelerated and crashed through the police barricades, "endangering the lives of the officers".

"Police opened fire at the vehicle to stop further danger," the police added. Two other men, aged 26 and 31, were arrested.

Pictures of the red Subaru showed a single bullet hole in the windscreen.

A former Criminal Investigation Department officer, who declined to be named, told The Straits Times that at least one officer must have been standing in front of the accelerating vehicle.

He added that it would have been difficult to shoot the tyres from that position.

"If the officer shot at the tyre and missed, there would have been trouble. Police officers might have been hit," said the 78-year-old officer, who spent 38 years with the Home Team.

"It would have been a split-second decision."




JUST IN: A man was shot dead and two others detained in an incident near Shangri-La hotel at 4.36am on Sunday. http://str.sg/UeX
Posted by The Straits Times on Saturday, May 30, 2015





One person was shot dead and another two detained after an incident in the vicinity of the Shangri-La hotel early Sunday (May 31) morning, police said. http://bit.ly/1HW6tEp
Posted by Channel NewsAsia Singapore on Saturday, May 30, 2015





Some hear loud pops but most residents sleep through incident
By Janice Heng And Danson Cheong, The Straits Times, 1 Jun 2015

FIRST, a blaring sound broke the pre-dawn silence in the leafy residential area near the Shangri-La Hotel, followed by a few loud pops.

For residents of the posh condominiums and serviced apartments there, those noises were the only indications of the dramatic confrontation that took place at 4.30am along Ardmore Park.

"I heard the shrill blast of what sounded like an airhorn," said an Ardmore II resident who wanted to be known only as Steve. "This was followed by a series of popping noises that sounded like explosives going off."

Though somewhat alarmed, the 50-year-old financial executive went back to bed.

It was only in the morning that he realised what he had heard was police opening fire on a car that had tried to ram through a police checkpoint. The driver was shot dead.

Ms Daisy Umarani, 40, a security guard at Ardmore Residence, said she heard three gunshots.

"I was shocked but I couldn't go out to look. I needed to stay at the condo."

Ms Rachel Maher and her husband told The Straits Times that they "jumped out of bed" when they heard the noises from their apartment in Ardmore II. They went to the service elevator landing to take a look but could not see what was happening.

Said Ms Maher, a 42-year-old master's student from the United States: "We were afraid because we weren't sure what was going on. This place has been on high security for the past few days."

The annual Shangri-La Dialogue summit, attended by defence chiefs of 26 nations, began last Friday at the Shangri-La Hotel. Strict security measures for the high-profile event, which include the security checkpoint along Ardmore Park, had been put in place by then.

For one Shangri-La Apartments resident who declined to be named, the greater police presence has been reassuring. "Singapore knows how to do it right, to put a ring of protection around the place," said the 66-year-old permanent resident. "It's very, very visible assurance."

But most residents approached by The Straits Times said they slept soundly through it all.

"We just saw it on the news this morning," said Mr Muhamed Fall, 42, who works for the World Bank.

He lives with his family in the 8 Orange Grove condominium, just opposite the corner where the car came to a stop.

He said the incident had not alarmed them, adding wryly: "We come from the United States."



Just how rare are police shootings in Singapore? Only three other instances have been reported over the past 15 years. http://str.sg/UnP
Posted by The Straits Times on Sunday, May 31, 2015




Police shootings very rare in Singapore
By Priscilla Goy, The Straits Times, 1 Jun 2015

POLICE shootings are very rare in Singapore. Before yesterday's incident, there had been just three reported cases in the past 15 years.

One has to go back seven years to March 6, 2008 for the last time a suspect was shot.

The drama unfolded in front of commuters on a train platform at Outram Park MRT station.

A 43-year-old man, Lim Bock Song, had fled to the station after stabbing his drinking buddy to death at a nearby hawker centre. He was spotted by Staff Sergeant Azli Othman and another officer at about 3.25pm.

Lim drew his knife and advanced towards the staff sergeant, ignoring the officer even after he drew his revolver and warned him to stop.

He charged at Staff Sgt Azli, who shot him in the chest.

The single shot drew screams from several commuters, some of whom tried to get away by running up the escalators and stairs.

In 2010, a coroner's inquiry found that the shooting was justified.

Closed-circuit television footage in the station showed Staff Sgt Azli had little time to react to Lim's aggressive behaviour and could have been fatally stabbed, said the state coroner.

In 2002, a 42-year-old motorcycle thief was shot after lunging at four policemen with a knife in a carpark at Mount Alvernia Hospital. He survived.

In May 2000, Sergeant Jason Chua Tock Sing fired four shots at psychiatric patient Ang Swee Kiat and killed him, after Ang threatened Sgt Chua and another police officer with a 62cm-long iron rod.

Ang had been sitting along Seletar Club Road, wearing military camouflage slacks and army boots. When police checked on him, he tried to attack them with the rod - and kept charging despite being shot the first time. So Sgt Chua fired three more shots.

The state coroner later ruled that Sgt Chua had been justified in his actions.




Wife of man shot dead at Police checkpoint blames SPF -- claiming that hubby was only driving without licence http://goo.gl/DQRdlf
Posted by Stomp Straits Times on Monday, June 1, 2015




Wife mourns man shot at checkpoint
By Danson CheongThe Straits Times, 4 Jun 2015

AT 4.20AM on Sunday, Ms Nassida Nasir woke up in panic.

Her husband, Mohamed Taufik Zahar, was not at home as they had argued - and something felt wrong.

Frantic, the 32-year-old starting calling and texting him.

"C u nvr pick up my cal..im suspecting a lot of things... as long u are safe," read one message at 4.22am.

Minutes later, Taufik, 34, would be stopped at a police checkpoint in Ardmore Park near Shangri-La Hotel, where a summit attended by defence chiefs was being held.

When he crashed his red Subaru Impreza through the roadblock, the police opened fire, killing him.

Ms Nassida Nasir, wife of Mohamed Taufik Zahar who was shot by the police at Shangri La on Sunday morning, says they were ready for him to go to prison for an offence of criminal intimidation. http://str.sg/UBg
Posted by The Straits Times on Wednesday, June 3, 2015


Officers found packets of heroin in the car. Taufik's two passengers - Mohamed Ismail, 31, and Muhammad Syahid Mohamed Yasin, 26 - were arrested and, on Monday, charged with drug trafficking.

The police said Taufik was wanted for failing to attend court for an offence of criminal intimidation. He also had a criminal record.

The incident that made international headlines cost Ms Nassida the father of her young child. Yesterday, at her parents' flat in Tampines, she told The Straits Times in a shaky voice about how she first met him in primary school, lost touch, but met again and started dating him two years ago.

Back then, Ms Nassida was a club dancer and Taufik worked as a nightclub bouncer.

"I danced at clubs, and he was a bit of a gangster," she said. They would party nightly and take party drugs.

Then their relationship turned serious. "We stopped partying and started staying at home to enjoy each other's company," said Ms Nassida.

She became pregnant last year and they got married two months ago, just after their daughter was born.

"He's stubborn. We were prepared for him to go (to prison) for a year," said Ms Nassida, referring to his offence of criminal intimidation.

After that, they planned to start a new life.

Meanwhile, Taufik worked as a logistics mover, making about $60 a day.

He was passionate about cars but did not have a driver's licence, she said. "He took the driving test three times and failed. Maybe God knew something like this would happen."

Since she had a licence, Ms Nassida rented a Subaru for $260, planning to take the family to Sentosa on Sunday. Instead, they argued just after midnight and he stormed off with the car.

"I think what the police did was right but it's not fair to me," she said.

"I didn't get a chance to kiss him goodbye. My daughter won't get to see him when she grows up."





* Shangri-La shooting: Man gets 8 years' jail, 3 strokes
Passenger in car that was shot at by police convicted of drug offences
By Elena Chong, Court Correspondent, The Straits Times, 16 Jun 2015

ONE of the two passengers in a car that was shot at after it crashed through security barriers near Shangri-La Hotel last month was sentenced to eight years' jail and three strokes of the cane for drug offences yesterday.

Mohamed Ismail, 31, was convicted of having 0.27g of heroin and 1.41g of methamphetamine, or Ice, along Orange Grove Road at about 4.50am on May 31, and taking drugs on May 30.

The other passenger, Muhammad Syahid Mohamed Yasin, 26, was also arrested for drug offences. The driver of the red Subaru Impreza, Mohamad Taufik Zahar, 34, died on the spot.

The car, with a single bullet hole in the front windscreen, came to a stop on a grass patch barely 250m from the hotel entrance.

The area around the hotel had been placed under a tight security net as it was hosting the Shangri- La Dialogue, a major security summit attended by defence ministers and security chiefs.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Yang Ziliang said Mohamed had abused ubat, a street name for heroin, at his home in Marsiling Crescent on May 30.

He was liable for enhanced punishment for drug consumption, as he was previously convicted of a similar offence in 2003.

Mohamed also spent time in jail for having a controlled drug in 2012.

He admitted in his statement that the heroin and Ice were for his own consumption. He had bought three packets of heroin and Ice from a man in Lorong 15, Geylang for $480 on May 29.

Seven other charges, mostly drug-related offences, were taken into consideration during his sentencing.

Mohamed could have been jailed for up to 10 years and/or fined up to $20,000 for each enhanced drug possession charge.

For enhanced drug consumption, the minimum is five years' jail and three strokes, up to seven years and six strokes of the cane.

Meanwhile, the case against Syahid will be mentioned tomorrow afternoon. He intends to get a lawyer to mitigate.





* Shangri-La shooting: Passenger gets jail, cane for rash act, drug offences
By Elena Chong, Court Correspondent, The Straits Times, 22 Dec 2015

A man who was a passenger in a car involved in a shooting incident near the Shangri-La Hotel was yesterday sentenced to seven years in jail and given three strokes of the cane.

Muhammad Syahid Mohamed Yasin, 27, had admitted to abetment to commit a rash act: He had shouted at driver Mohamad Taufik Zahar to "Jalan! Jalan!" (Go! Go!) after the car stopped at a police roadblock in Ardmore Park at about 4.15am on May 31.

Court papers say that Taufik, 34, suddenly accelerated towards Sergeant Mohamad Zahid Suhami, 29, and Senior Staff Sergeant See Toa Chew Yin, 30. He crashed the car into a concrete barrier, endangering the safety of the two police officers.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Yang Ziliang said two other police officers had approached Taufik's car when it stopped that morning.

Syahid, a kitchen helper, also admitted to two counts of enhanced possession of drugs and one of taking "Ice", or methamphetamine.

Syahid, who was in the back seat of the red Subaru Impreza, was observed to be nervous and defensive.

He was worried about being checked as he had drugs in his possession - a pouch containing 17 tablets of nimetazepam and two packets of at least 8.41g of methamphetamine.

Moreover, he had consumed Ice the night before in his home.

At the road block, Syahid shouted in Malay to Taufik to go, leading him to suddenly rev the engine and accelerate towards Sgt Zahid and Senior Staff Sgt See Toa, who were near the concrete barrier.

On hearing the revving of the engine, Senior Staff Sgt See Toa backed away from the concrete barrier while Sgt Zahid, who was seated in the driver's seat in a police car, braced himself for impact. The car crashed into the concrete barrier beside the police car, pushed the barrier aside and drove through.

An earlier report said police opened fire at the vehicle, and the car came to a stop on a grass patch barely 250m from the entrance of the hotel. Taufik was pronounced dead at the scene.

The area around the hotel had been placed under tight security as it was hosting the Shangri-La Dialogue, a major security summit attended by defence ministers and security chiefs.

Syahid committed the present offences after his recent release from drug supervision. He was last jailed for 12 months in 2013 for drug consumption and possession.

He was cleared of trafficking in heroin with Mohamed Ismail, 32, the front-seat passenger, after the charge was withdrawn.

Mohamed was sentenced to eight years in jail and given three strokes of the cane for drug offences.

Syahid's lawyer, Ms Nadia Moynihan, said her client's infant daughter died in July this year, followed by his father. Syahid had reported having flashbacks of his friend being shot dead, she said.

Four other drug-related charges were taken into consideration.






Shangri-La shooting: Five gunshots were fired by two officers at the suspect when he attempted to evade police checks...
Posted by TODAY on Tuesday, January 26, 2016






* Shangri-La shooting: Car took wrong turn into security zone
By Amir Hussain, The Straits Times, 27 Jan 2016

They were going to Orchard Towers after failing to pick up prostitutes in Geylang - until a wrong turn put them at a high-security checkpoint outside Shangri-La Hotel.

With drugs in the car and wanted by police, 34-year-old driver Mohamad Taufik Zahar was urged by one of his passengers to drive off. He sped off in the direction of the hotel, but a pair of Gurkha officers fired five shots at the vehicle.

One hit Taufik on the side of the head, near his right ear. There was no exit wound as the the bullet fragmented upon impact. He died on the spot. These dramatic details were revealed yesterday at a coroner's inquiry into Taufik's death in the early hours of May 31.

The hotel in Orange Grove Road and its vicinity had been placed under a tight security net from May 28 to 31, as it was hosting the Shangri-La Dialogue, a major security summit attended by defence ministers and military chiefs from 27 countries. Of particular concern were vehicles carrying improvised explosive devices - a weapon commonly used in terror attacks, State Counsel and Second Solicitor-General Kwek Mean Luck said.

The court heard that Taufik had quarrelled with his wife that day. At about midnight, after she fell asleep, he took the keys to her rented red Subaru and drove to meet two friends in Geylang. Unable to find prostitutes there, they decided to head to Orchard Towers.

The trio had agreed to evade any roadblocks along the way. All had consumed drugs separately and the two passengers also had drugs with them. Taufik and one of his friends were also wanted by police - Taufik for missing a pre-trial conference for theft, drug consumption and criminal intimidation charges; and his friend for drug-related offences and for failing to stop at a roadblock.

But Taufik missed the turn into Claymore Hill at Draycott Drive towards Draycott Park and had to take the next turn into Draycott Drive towards Ardmore Park.

At 4.17am, he drove past an auxiliary police officer stationed along Ardmore Park. He stopped the vehicle in front of a second auxiliary officer, who was stationed between two layers of concrete barriers to control and direct traffic towards a vehicle check station.

He then drove past a third layer of concrete barriers at the start of the vehicle check station and stopped the car in front of two policemen. The duo approached the vehicle on its left, and asked for the left front and rear windows to be lowered.

Taufik's friend Mohamed Ismail, 32, sat in the front passenger seat, while another friend, Muhammad Syahid Mohamed Yasin, 27, sat in the rear centre passenger seat.

Syahid appeared agitated and asked the officers through the window why they were being checked. But before they could reply, he shouted at Taufik to "Jalan! Jalan!" or "Go! Go!" in Malay.

One of the policemen moved alongside the car and tapped on the windows repeatedly while shouting "Stop!", to no avail. The other police officer, seeing that the car was about to crash into the concrete barriers ahead, shouted "Crash Through!" twice to alert other officers.

As the car crashed through the fourth layer of concrete security barriers, an officer sounded the air horn and shouted "Dash Through!" several times. Gurkha officers shot at the car five times and the car finally slowed. Mohamed and Syahid fled from the car, which later came to a standstill near the junction of Anderson Road and Orange Grove Road.

Mohamed, who went on to receive eight years in jail and three strokes of the cane for drug offences, was arrested in the hotel's driveway. Syahid was nabbed at Shangri-La Apartments. He was sentenced to seven years' jail and three strokes for abetment to commit a rash act and for drug offences last year.

The inquiry continues today.




WHAT HAPPENED AT 4.17AM ON MAY 31 LAST YEAR

•A red Subaru saloon approaches a vehicle check station set up along Ardmore Park, but heeds neither an auxiliary police officer's (APO) signal to slow down nor a "Slow Down Police Check Ahead" sign.

•A second APO stationed between the first and second layer of concrete barriers to control and direct traffic towards the station notices the car approaching him fast. He waves his traffic wand to signal the car to slow down. The vehicle stops in front of the APO and he directs it to proceed to the station.

•The car moves past a third layer of concrete barriers at the start of the vehicle check station and stops in front of two policemen. The officers approach the car on the left.

•The rear passenger appears agitated and asks why the car is being checked. Before the officers can reply, the man shouts for the driver to go. The driver ignores repeated instructions to stop and crashes through the final line of concrete barriers at the end of the vehicle check station.

•A police inspector sounds the air horn and shouts "Dash Through" several times to warn other officers, who fall prone on the ground.

•Two Gurkha officers standing guard in front of Shangri-La Hotel open fire after their repeated verbal warnings of "Police, stop!" go unheeded. A single bullet from the first Gurkha officer's weapon enters the car's front windscreen, but it continues moving. A fourth shot from the second officer's weapon hits the driver on the side of his head near the upper right ear. The car slows to a crawl.

•Two other Gurkha officers don helmets and vests and check on the car, while the pair who opened fire return to their posts.





Moving towards the car, the Gurkha officers raised their weapons while shouting repeatedly for the driver to stop. But it kept on accelerating, and crashed through the barriers. The officers then opened fire.
Posted by The Straits Times on Tuesday, January 26, 2016






Shots fired after repeated warnings
By Amir Hussain, The Straits Times, 27 Jan 2016

The Vehicle Counter Assault Teams, made up of pairs of armed Gurkha officers, had a straightforward mission - use all lawful means to prevent any vehicle from crashing through barriers and leaving the vehicle check stations set up outside Shangri-La Hotel.

On May 31 last year, two officers saw that a car had driven off without being checked by police and was accelerating towards the final line of concrete barriers.

Moving towards the car, the Gurkha officers raised their weapons while shouting repeatedly for the driver to stop, State Counsel and Second Solicitor-General Kwek Mean Luck told the court yesterday.

But it kept on accelerating, and crashed through the barriers, before turning towards the Shangri-La Hotel and surrounding residential apartments.

One of the Gurkha officers fired a shot in the driver's direction. The car kept on moving. The second officer then fired two shots. With no indication that the car was stopping, the second officer fired two more shots. At this point, the car slowed to a crawling speed.

The Gurkhas are elite soldiers from Nepal employed in the British Army, Indian Army and Singapore Police Force. Singapore's Gurkha Contingent was formed in 1949. The unit saw action in the ensuing decades against militant unions and in racial riots, where their image as a neutral force became an asset. About 2,000 of them are serving in the Singapore Police Force.





Gurkha officer gives account of Shangri-La shooting
He re-enacts how he followed training in opening fire after driver failed to obey orders to stop car
By Amir Hussain, The Straits Times, 28 Jan 2016

A Gurkha officer guarding a high-security checkpoint outside the Shangri-La Hotel had just started his shift in the early hours of May 31 when he saw a car crash through the concrete security barriers despite shouts to stop.

The officer, who was part of a two-man Vehicle Counter Assault Team at the checkpoint, immediately moved towards the car and aimed his firearm at it.

After his own shouts for the car to stop went unheeded, he aimed his weapon at the silhouette of the 34-year-old driver, Mohamed Taufik Zahar, and opened fire, just as he had been trained to do.

His fourth and final shot hit Taufik, and the car came to a crawl.

"My aim, my duty, was to stop the vehicle," said the officer, a marksman who has been with the police for eight years. "...
Posted by The Straits Times on Wednesday, January 27, 2016


Yesterday, the Gurkha officer gave his version of events on the second day of a coroner's inquiry into Taufik's death. As he could not be identified due to the sensitive nature of his work, he testified via video-link. He was also made to re-enact his actions on the day.

With his back to the camera, the officer showed how he had pointed his weapon at the car, moving alongside it and shouting "Police, stop!" loudly and in quick succession before firing his weapon.

As the officer did the re-enactment, Taufik's family members, including his wife, looked visibly distraught and sobbed.

The hotel in Orange Grove Road and its vicinity had been placed under a tight security net from May 28 to 31, as it was hosting the Shangri-La Dialogue, a major security summit attended by defence ministers and military chiefs from 27 countries. Of particular concern to police were vehicles carrying improvised explosive devices - a weapon commonly used in terror attacks.

Under questioning by Second Solicitor-General Kwek Mean Luck and Taufik's family lawyer M. Mahendran, the Gurkha officer reiterated that his duty was to stop any vehicle which breached the barriers, at all costs.

"My aim, my duty, was to stop the vehicle," said the officer, a marksman who has been with the police for eight years. "In my training, if a vehicle crashes through a barricade, we are trained to shoot the driver to stop the vehicle."

He had given multiple verbal orders for the driver to stop the car, and had to shoot the driver to stop it, after his colleague's single shot to the front windscreen had failed to do so. Aiming for the largest part of the driver's silhouette, he opened fire when the car showed no signs of stopping, he said.

Earlier, police staff sergeant Wang Zhenxiong also testified that he and a colleague had stopped the car at a vehicle check station in front of the barrier.

Taufik's friend in the rear seat seemed agitated and had asked the policeman through the window: "Why are you checking me?"

But before the officer could reply, the passenger shouted at Taufik to drive off. Taufik complied, ignoring shouts and knocks on the car to stop.

Forensic pathologist Lee Chin Thye meanwhile testified that Taufik died almost instantaneously after being hit about 4cm horizontally behind his upper right ear by a high-velocity bullet, which fragmented upon impact and caused severe brain damage.

Taufik's blood was also found to contain low quantities of the controlled drugs Erimin-5 and amphetamine. The level of methamphetamine, a stimulant drug, however, was about 30 times above prescription limits. This could have caused effects such as restlessness, euphoria, hallucinations, rapid flight of ideas or irritability.

The inquiry will resume at a later date.





Shangri-La shooting: Police had to act 'because of threat'

Officers didn't have time or opportunity to find out why car crashed: State Counsel
By Pang Xue Qiang, The Straits Times, 17 Mar 2016

Instead of leaving it to chance, the police had to stop the car when it crashed through the final line of concrete security barriers outside Shangri-La Hotel last May, said State Counsel and Second Solicitor-General Kwek Mean Luck yesterday as the coroner's inquiry into the death of 34-year-old driver Mohamed Taufik Zahar came to a close.

He was shot dead last May 31 by Gurkha officers at a security checkpoint set up near the hotel which was hosting the Shangri-La Dialogue, a major security summit attended by defence ministers and military chiefs from 27 countries.

Summing up the State's presentation of evidence, Mr Kwek said: "When the car crashed through the concrete barrier, police did not know and did not have time or opportunity to find out why... what it carried, and where it was going. The threat of danger in those circumstances was real. The police had to act, and they did."

Yesterday's hearing also saw the car's rear passenger, Muhammad Syahid Mohamed Yasin, testify for the first time on how he and his friends came under fire.

The 27-year-old, Taufik and another friend were headed to Orchard Towers after failing to pick up prostitutes in Geylang. The trio wound up at a high-security checkpoint outside the hotel because of a wrong turn. There were drugs inside the car. When a police officer said the car was to be searched, Syahid said he shouted: "Why are you checking me?"

Despite police shouts and knocks on the car to stop, he urged Taufik to drive off. "I was scared of being arrested. I just wanted to get out of that place... When I shouted the words 'Jalan! Jalan!', it was in an aggressive tone and it meant to 'Go!'" After the car crashed through the barriers, it continued to pick up speed. They were around 35m away from the hotel.

"Suddenly, I heard three loud bangs. I was scared. I saw the front windscreen crack. At the same time, I saw (Taufik's) head jerking backwards to the left side.

"I saw blood from the back of his head. It looked like someone attacked him on the back of his head with a parang," said Syahid, who was sentenced to seven years' jail and three strokes for abetment to commit a rash act and for drug offences last year.

The three-day inquiry - the first two days were on Jan 26 and 27 - had nine witnesses, including police officers and forensic scientists. A Gurkha officer, one of two who together fired five shots, said on Jan 27: "In my training, if a vehicle crashes through a barricade, we are trained to shoot the driver to stop the vehicle."

Mr Kwek yesterday said some "what if" questions were raised in the inquiry, including what if the police had waited until they had an opportunity to verify why the car crashed through, and if its occupants did indeed have the intent to carry out a terrorist attack.

However, he said "this would not have been easy or even possible" for the police based on the facts. The lesson "cannot be that the police should hesitate from stopping threats in similar situations in future".

State Coroner Marvin Bay will reveal his findings on April 22.





CORONER’S INQUIRY


** Shangri-La shooting 'lawful'
Officer was neutralising a perceived threat, says coroner
By Amir Hussain and Pang Xue Qiang, The Straits Times, 23 Apr 2016

The shooting of a 34-year-old man by police outside the Shangri-La Hotel on May 31 last year was "a lawful killing", a coroner ruled yesterday.

The officer who fired the fatal shot was simply doing his job of neutralising a perceived threat, when Mohamed Taufik Zahar drove through security barriers despite shouts to stop, and had no specific intention to kill, said State Coroner Marvin Bay.

Intoxicated on a cocktail of drugs, Taufik showed scant regard for the policemen trying to stop his car.

He was shot dead by a Gurkha officer on security detail outside the hotel, which was under tight watch as it was the venue of the Shangri-La Dialogue, a major security summit.

Despite repeated warnings to stop, Taufik accelerated his car past concrete barriers and towards a Vehicle Counter Assault Team of two armed Gurkha officers.

They opened fire after he breached the barriers and showed no sign of stopping. A fifth shot hit his head, killing him on the spot.

Taufik was on his way to Orchard Towers with two friends but had taken a wrong turn.

The trio were anxious to evade any roadblocks as they had all taken drugs and the two passengers had drugs on them. Taufik and one of them were also wanted by police.

In his findings, the coroner said the officers used their firearms as a last resort, having entirely reasonable grounds to assume hostile intent and that the car was carrying a vehicle-borne explosive device.

They could not have waited further, he said.

"The car would have reached the protected premises in a matter of seconds if it had not been engaged and stopped, as the distance between the final concrete barrier and Shangri-La Hotel was a mere 33m to 34m," the coroner said.

The second and third shots were fired as the car drove past the shooter, while the final round was fired as the car was already moving away from the same officer, presenting him with a small window of opportunity to bring the vehicle to a halt.

There was no option of leaving it up to chance that the car was not carrying any explosives, said Mr Bay. "If (the officer) had not engaged the vehicle, and if the car had in fact been carrying a vehicle- borne improvised explosive device, there might well have been catastrophic consequences."

The coroner said there was a need to take terrorism seriously, noting the use of car bombs in terrorist attacks overseas and the Jemaah Islamiah network's plan to use truck bombs here in 2001.

Taufik's wife, Ms Nassida Nasir, 33, who married him two months before he died, said afterwards: "Our daughter is too young to know what happened to her father. I will have to find a way to explain to her when she is old enough to understand."
















PAST CASES
By Pang Xue Qiang, The Straits Times, 23 Apr 2016

Police shootings that the coroner previously ruled as justified homicide:

- On March 6, 2008, murder suspect Lim Bock Song, 43, died of a gunshot wound to the chest after he charged at a policeman with a knife at Outram Park MRT station. Police were going after Lim, a mental patient, for the fatal stabbing of Tan Ah Chang, 52, at Jalan Kukoh hawker centre, just 30 minutes earlier.

- On May 15, 2000, psychiatric patient Ang Swee Kiat, 37, was seen bare-chested, wearing only a pair of army camouflage trousers and carrying a 62cm-long iron rod in Seletar Club Road. When the police tried to check on him, Ang charged at a policeman, and ignored warnings to drop the rod. The officer fired a total of four shots at Ang - one pierced his arm, entered his chest and killed him.

- On April 2, 1999, Low Mui Chua, 47, who was wanted for drug-related offences and assaulting a public servant, attacked a policeman with a knife at People's Park. The policeman fatally shot Low once in the stomach.

- On April 24, 1998, a tussle broke out between drug suspect Othman Juri, 32, and two policemen in Boon Lay Drive. A policeman fired a first shot at his legs, but Othman continued to charge at him with a chair. The policeman fired another two shots before Othman collapsed. He died in hospital eight hours later.


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