A very bizarre and tragic event took place in Canada last week. A Greyhound passenger, traveling from Edmonton to Winnipeg, was brutally murdered and beheaded by another passenger. This random murder left the country in shock.
Tim McLean, the victim, boarded a Greyhound bus in Edmonton to his hometown, Winnipeg. He was a 22 years old kid described as quiet and easy-going. Vince Weiguang Li, the killer, is 40 years old. He had no criminal record and was a McDonald’s employee in Edmonton.
According to the witnesses (there were 37 passengers in the bus), Li boarded the bus in Brandon (Manitoba) at 6:55 p.m. He originally sat near the front of the bus, but moved to sit next to McLean following a rest stop. The trip was long and McLean, like many passengers, had fallen asleep listening to his MP3. Suddenly, M. Caton, a passenger who sat one row ahead of McLean, described hearing “a blood-curdling scream” saying, “I turned around and the guy sitting right [behind]me was standing up and stabbing another guy with a big Rambo knife … Right in the throat. Repeatedly.”
The police arrived to find the attacker still in the bus and the passengers huddled at the roadside, in shock. They had all left the bus seconds after the attack and had prevented Li from escaping from the bus with a crowbar and a hammer. The driver had engaged the emergency immobilizer system so the attacker couldn’t drive away, as he attempted to do so earlier.
McLean was stabbed over fifty times before being decapitated by his attacker. Other gruesome details were revealed by the passengers in shock and a police tape that leaked on the internet, but weren’t confirmed by the police.
The suspect taunted the tactical unit that had gathered around the bus. At 1:30 am Li broke through a window and attempted to escape. He was apprehended by the police. So far, Li hasn’t spoken but remains in police custody and is under suicide watch. He appeared at the court and didn’t speak. He only nodded when the judge asked him if he was exercising his right to remain silent. He was charged with second-degree murder.
The news was everywhere in Canada. Of course, the gruesome nature of the murder is shocking but what may be even more disturbing is the randomness of the attack. The two guys didn’t know each other. There must have been a trigger but I doubt we will ever know.
I read and heard several comments that left me speechless, though. “Why didn’t anyone fight back?” “Over thirty passengers could have overpowered a lone man with a knife, right?” This is usually followed by a “Canadians have no balls” and “too bad you guys don’t have guns”.
I love these Mr. Real Man. Unleash your inner Superman, grab your gun and shoot. Pose for the picture. Save the world and be a hero.
Truth is, in this kind of situation, I doubt anyone has a chance to realize what’s happening before it happens… and before it’s too late. Most of us are not prepared for this kind of situation and we can only do the best we can. That doesn’t mean we should be judged afterwards. The poor passengers escaped and that the best they could do. Period. And this reminds me of a story…
A few years ago, I had just arrived from Paris and was walking from the train station to my parent’s place. It was about 8 p.m. and the streets were almost empty.
I was arriving to my parent’s place when I saw a man staggering in the street. He was probably 60 meters away from me. I assumed he was a drunk or a weirdo and changed sidewalk without thinking much of it, but he seemed to be moving towards me. A few seconds later, my eyes registered that he was a young man and that he was covered in blood. And he had a knife stuck into his belly.
My eyes got the details but for a few seconds, my brain froze. The picture I was making seemed to unrealistic and out of place for me to process it.
“I got stabbed”, he said, “I think I’m gonna faint”.
I came towards him and helped him lay against a concrete pole. He didn’t faint but he did look very pale. Well, I guess having a knife stuck into you could be a good reason to be pale.
“You’re gonna be okay”, I said. “I’m just gonna call an ambulance”. As I was saying that, I realized I didn’t have a cell phone or a phone card to make the call. But I could see my parent’s apartment a few meters away, so I figured I could run home and call. But I felt bad leaving the kid here.
Fortunately, an heavily-tattooed guy stopped near us. “Need help here?” “Yes, I just found him a minute ago, looks like he got stabbed”. I’m very good at stating the obvious. The passerby sensed my distress and winked at me. “I have a cell phone, let me call”.
I turned back to the kid who was starting to freak out pretty bad. He did have a lot of blood on him, his tee-shirt was soaked but the wound didn’t seem to bleed as much now that he was sitting. I didn’t think removing the knife would help so I tried to talk to him to distract him from the object in his abdomen. “So, what happened?” I asked. “I was just walking here”, he pointed a small park nearby the river, “and a guy stabbed me. Well, I knew the guy but how could I have known he had a knife, fuck, fuck, fuck, I don’t wanna die man!”
The Hell’s Angel guy finished the call and turned to us. “S’right kid, they gonna be here in a minute”. “I just don’t wanna die! I didn’t know it, but I don’t wanna die!” he cried plaintively. “Hey man, I took a lot of knives in my life, you don’t die of a knife wound, pussy!”
“Great”, I thought, “this guy is a Hell’s Angel”. He started to take off his shirt to show the kid his heroic life. He did have a lot of scars on his abdomen. “See, got stabbed here, there and I think here again. And I’m still here!” he concluded, putting his shirt back on.
We somehow managed to keep the kid from fainting before the ambulance arrived. He was taken in and I’m sure he ended up fine. The tattoo guy and I left the scene.
The whole thing lasted maybe thirty minutes but I will always remember it. How it took me several seconds to realize what was going on. How I couldn’t do much but call an ambulance. How sometimes, life is just a question of being at the right place at the right time, or maybe the opposite, the wrong place at the wrong time.