Riot police used tear gas to disperse protesters who had gathered in Tseung Kwan O late last night amid tensions over a student who sustained life-threatening injuries during a protest earlier this week.
Tseung Kwan O, in Sai Kung district, has become a flashpoint in recent days after a 22-year-old man surnamed Chow — a computer science student at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology — fell from the third to the second floor of a car park at the Sheung Tak Estate in the early hours of Monday. People had gathered in the area for flash protests on Sunday, which culminated in riot police firing tear gas to disperse demonstrators.
It’s not clear why Chow was in the car park, but it is believed that he was trying to escape from the tear gas when he fell. He was taken to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Yau Ma Tei.
Inaccurate reports circulating yesterday evening that Chow was brain-dead and being taken off life support only served to heighten tensions among protesters. The outlet that made the report ultimately issued a retraction, though the SCMP reports that other tests carried out yesterday showed Chow is so far unresponsive after multiple operations.
RTHK reports that Chow remains in a critical condition, and friends gathered at Queen Elizabeth Hospital for prayers last night.
Police also held a press conference at 9pm to dispel any rumors that one of their own pushed Chow. Senior Superintendent Wu Ka-yan said preliminary evidence suggests that Chow fell between 12:45am and 1am, but that they found no security camera footage that captured the fall and that it’s not clear how he got to the car park in the first place.
Wu added that it was possible that Chow may have jumped over a low wall on the third floor thinking there was a ledge just below, but instead fell about four meters onto the second floor.
Senior Superintendent Foo Yat-ting also played down the possibility that Chow was running away from tear gas at the time, saying that tear gas was fired to disperse people throwing objects from the building, but they did so about 120 meters away from the spot where Chow fell.
She also dismissed allegations online that police obstructed first-aiders from going to the scene and prevented the ambulance from reaching or leaving the area.