Violence escalated in Hong Kong on Nov. 11 after local police fired live rounds at protesters who were engaged in citywide strike action.
The shooting took place in the neighborhood of Sai Wan Ho when protesters tried to block roads. One police officer pointed his gun at point-blank range at a protester wearing a white hoodie before grabbing him by the neck.
A second protester dressed in black approached the officer and then tried to swat the gun from his hand. He was shot by the police officer at close range and collapsed to the ground.
Two more protesters approached the officer from behind, and the officer fired two more shots at close range. One of the protesters also fell to the ground.
The shooting, which took place before 8 a.m. local time, was captured on video by local production house Cupid Producer.
Warning: Video contains disturbing content
Police cordoned off the scene to collect forensic evidence, but angry citizens began to gather and shouted “murderers” at the police officer who fired his gun. At 10:24 a.m. local time, police officers fired tear gas in an attempt to disperse the crowd after some set fire to barricades in the area.
According to Hong Kong media, two protesters were shot and taken away by ambulance. One protester, 21, was in need of emergency surgery.
At 11 a.m. local time, Hong Kong’s Hospital Authority said that a man who had sustained a gunshot wound was in critical condition.
Callum Lau, a resident in Chai Wan, southeast of Sai Wan Ho, told local broadcaster RTHK that the police’s action was unacceptable.
“This is a very familiar society to me and it is totally unacceptable for me to see a brutal police force just come into my society and hit a person,” Lau said.
News of the shooting received attention in the United States, with Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Miss.) taking to Twitter to say: “If this isn’t a police state, I don’t know what is.”
Civil Human Rights Front, the main organizer for the multiple massive rallies in recent months, also responded to the shooting, saying on its Facebook page that the two protesters were unarmed and did not pose any threat.
The organizer added that the police had failed to reflect on the recent death of Alex Chow Tsz-lok, and decided to escalate their actions.
Chow died from cardiac arrest on Nov. 8, days after falling one story from a parking garage in Tseung Kwan O from which he sustained severe brain injuries. Protesters have alleged that Chow’s death was in connection to police action as officers had earlier fired tear gas in the area to disperse protesters throwing bricks and bottles. Police have said that they had nothing to do with his death.
This is the third time that the police have fired live rounds at protesters. On Oct. 1, police fired a live shot at a senior high school student protester at close range in Tsuen Wan. On Oct. 4, a plainclothed officer shot a 14-year-old.
Violence also occurred in the neighborhood of Kwai Fong. In an unconfirmed video widely shared on social media, a police officer riding a police motorcycle drove into a crowd of protesters, knocking at least one protester to the ground before speeding away.
Local transportation was crippled across Hong Kong as protesters took action to disrupt services and set up makeshift barricades on several roads.
At Tseung Kwan O, protesters were seen damaging traffic lights, according to local media.
At around 10:30 a.m. local time, more than a dozen metro stations were shut down, according to RTHK.
Police confronted protesters by firing tear gas at several locations, including Wong Tai Sin, Tseung Kwan O, and Hung Hom.
According to local media HKFP, police also fired tear gas inside the University of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Polytechnic University.
Several local universities have canceled classes due to public transportation disruption, including Baptist University, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and the Education University of Hong Kong.