A Chinese hospital patient angry with his in-laws took a nurse hostage by holding a knife to her throat on Feb 18. The incident, which took place in the Jiangsu People’s Hospital in Nanjing, eastern China, lasted about half an hour.
Photos taken at the scene show bystanders doing nothing or taking pictures with their phones.
The hostage-taker, a 34-year -old surnamed Wang, was irritated that the police had previously ignored his personal feud with his brothers-in-law.
Before taking the nurse, a young mother in 20s, hostage, Wang had tried calling the police, said Ms. Zhang, a witness interviewed by Shanghai online media Peng Pai. When officers arrived, Wang demanded to see the police chief, but they paid him no heed and left.
Thinking that more drastic measures would get him what he wanted, he grabbed a fruit knife, then the nurse, holding the blunt edge of the knife blade to her throat while yelling “call the police!”
Then he backed himself and the woman into a room corner.
Witness Ms. Shen told Peng Pai that the incident was “not as terrible as people imagined. It felt like he just wanted the police to deal with the problem. He didn’t look that emotional either.”
Shen said that Wang didn’t want to hurt the nurse. Within five minutes the police arrived in force and evacuated all the other patients from the room, which was cordoned off.
“They’re plotting against me!” Wang can be heard screaming in the video.
The incident was resolved without physical harm, but the nurse was “was crying non-stop after she was brought out of the room,” according to a coworker. “She was totally freaked out.”
Although the nurse was not injured, another colleague cursed Wang for causing psychological harm. “She just in her twenties and her child is still feeding.”
Internet comments deplored the passivity of the bystanders.
“The numb selfishness that causes people to just sit by and watch is a common reaction that Chinese people have towards these sorts of incidents,” one comment reads. “Worse, some capture the moment [on camera] and use it to get money; their first thoughts are about personal profit.”
Another user said: “Uncles [a term of respect for elder men, refers to the other patients], I’d like to know your inner thoughts in the first moments of the incident.”