Fatal Arson Attack was a Criminal Cock-up

According to the testimony of suspects and evidence collected by police, the men who set fire to a restaurant, leaving one dead and four injured Thursday evening, had not intended to start a fire, but had merely wanted to splash paint in the restaurant in order to intimidate a debtor.

The paint, however, was mixed with lacquer and paint-thinner, and as the liquid came into contact with flames on the gas stove, the mixture ignited, causing an instant, intensive blaze that killed an employee of the restaurant before spreading to residences above.

According to various reports in Taiwan’s Chinese language press including CNA, a man named Tsai(蔡) paid three men NT$10,000 each to splash paint at the restaurant to intimidate the owner over an unpaid debt. Video evidence accessed by police and distributed to the media today show the men purchasing paint, toluene, banana oil, and a bucket at a hardware store in Taichung City.

The men then proceeded north to Tucheng District in New Taipei City, where they parked in an alley and mixed the ingredients in the bucket. The suspects drove to the well-known goose-meat restaurant and hurled the deadly concoction into the restaurant.

paint and solvent cans part of the evidence in arson case
Paint and solvents found in an alley where the suspects mixed ingredients for a paint bomb.

After apparently accidentally starting what turned out to be a deadly blaze, the men fled back to Taichung where they made preparations to flee the country. The following day, police arrested 3 suspects, including the ringleader, Tsai, at Taoyuan International Airport, while 2 suspects were arrested in Taichung.

The suspects were transferred to prosecutors today where they are expected to be charged with a range of offences, including murder, public endangerment, and intimidation.

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