Saturday, August 9, 2008

Beijing : Attack and Murder at the Drum Tower

I feel that I should begin by expressing how safe I felt while I was in Beijing. I felt safer in every part of Beijing than I do in downtown Minneapolis. The news outlets don't really say that enough while sharing this bit of news. Actual physical attacks on foreigners are very unusual in Beijing. Like any large city, crimes of opportunity are common, but confrontational attacks against foreigners are incredibly rare.

Todd Bachman, his wife Barbara, and their Chinese guide -- who's name has not been reported, as far as I can find -- were attacked and stabbed at the historic Beijing Drum Tower on 9 Aug, 2008 at 12:20 pm Beijing time. Todd Bachman died of his injuries. Barbara Bachman underwent emergency surgery, and is said to be in serious, but stable, condition.

To most of the world, as the China Daily reports, he was an American tourist, and family member to a US Olympic coach.

To the rest of the country, as reported by the New York Times, Todd was the Father-in-law to current Olympic US Men's Volleyball team coach, Hugh McCutcheon. Or, as the LA Times reports, the father of Elisabeth "Wiz" Bachman, former Olympic Women's Volleyball player for the 2004 US team at the Athens Olympics.

Of all the stories though, I prefer the one about the man, and not about who he is related to.

As many of you know, I live in Minnesota. Todd and Barbara Bachman also live here. Where I live, the local paper, the Star Tribune, reports that Todd Bachman is the CEO of a local and successful chain of Florist and gardening stores, called "Bachman's". By successful, I mean that that the business has survived for more than 120 years. As a point of perspective, I mention that this year marks the 150th year of Minnesota statehood. There wasn't much of a Minneapolis 120 years ago when they opened.

Extensive reporting on the assailant is available, his name, work-history, where he was born, and who his family is. He jumped from the Drum Tower's second level (where the attack occurred), and died instantly upon impacting the ground.

However, it bothers me that we know nothing at all about the third victim of this crime. Even in the China Daily report, she is known only as "a Chinese tour guide". I only hope her injuries are less severe than the other two, and that reporting on her is unimportant because she is now starting a new day of being a tour guide. I hope this, especially considering the injuries to the other victims. The only indication of her well-being, from China Daily, "The two injured women are in stable condition at a hospital," does not suggest she is back at work today.

Todd and Barbara's daughter, who was present, but not injured, has even been reported on. As a former Olympiad, I suppose that's natural, but that only makes me more bothered at the fact that nobody reports any details about the tour guide. She is also a victim of this tragic crime. I'm sure I'm not the only person who wonders about such things.


  1. The MEDIA ignores certain victims ALL THE TIME. Talk about frustrating.

    You would think the only victims of crimes are young blonde women vacationing in Aruba who are former cheerleaders, based on coverage.

    Call me when an African-American, Asian, or other non-European race gets that kind of coverage.

  2. From a deeper level, on an International scale, it would make sense, for example, that the Minneapolis paper would focus on the local resident, or that the US paper would focus on the US citizens, but that the Beijing paper would focus on the US citizens - to the exclusion of the Chinese citizen, I do find odd.

    It was suggested to me by at least one reader that it's possible that the other victim did not want to be mentioned... I really don't know.

  3. I contacted the U S Embassy in Beijing and Ambassador and demand a very serious and deep investigation in the attack. Those security guards were so robotic fear to go against their supervisor. They not free thinker.

    They judge non Asian and large group of people as trouble maker so this lone person got in so easy. Because he was Chinese and seem harmless. Why no guard up in Drum Tower?

  4. Anonymous, I never heard of the possibility that there is no guard in the upper level of the tower. That would be strange. While I never visited that specific tower, I visited others in China, and even in a calm time, there was always at least one guard on the upper level.

    Knife attacks are close, personal and fast ... So it is likely that the attack was done before the guard had time to react... Especially if the guard was walking the outer walk when the attack started.

  5. I am a Canadian who was in Beijing and had worked with the guide who was injured in the attack. I am happy to report that she is OK, and getting married very soon. While she underwent surgery shortly thereafter, she has recovered well from her wounds. Her brother is a doctor, and I can attest to the fact that she received excellent care, as I visited her in the hospital on two occasions. While I know she still experiences physical pain, this young Chinese girl has an indomitable spirit, and I am certain she will make a full psychological recovery. I too was frustrated that for 2 days while in Beijing I could find no information on her status. I feared she may have died, and hardly a day goes by that I don't think of the courage of my Chinese friend. Her name was Olivia.