Police on the Copperbelt Province have gunned down a suspected criminal in connection with gas-spraying of people using unknown substances in Chingola District.

Speaking at a press briefing at Chingola Central Police Station, Monday, Deputy Inspector General of Police Bonny Kapeso said the suspect was spotted around the Central Business District (CBD) area after midnight with a bag containing unknown substances which were suspected to have been used in spraying people.

“Following our continued operations in Chingola, last night our officers were on patrol. You may wish to note that we have adopted much more foot patrols instead of motorized patrols because foot patrols, we encounter interaction either with people with the information or even with the suspects. But suffice to mention that, last night, just after mid-night around Mwaiseni in town centre, the officers on patrol came across one person who was spotted carrying a bag and the officer challenged him! But when he saw that they were officers, he threw the bag and started running. Obviously, per procedure, the officers gave him a warning shot for him to know that these are police officers,” Kapeso said.

He narrated that police officers fired warning shots to stop the suspect, but that he failed to heed and ran away, leaving his bag behind, forcing police to shoot him in the legs.

“Despite the warning, he couldn’t heed to the warning and when the officers saw that he was running away, they suspected that he must be running away from something and officers now had to use fire arms that were given to use and shot him straight on the legs, but apparently, there was too much blood outflow from his body. When he was lying down, some of the officers already took care of what he had thrown and when they opened the bag, they found this mineral water bottle with this substance (and) up to now, I don’t know what this (white) substance is. Upon finding this, we are sufficiently convinced that he could be one of those suspects,” Kapeso narrated.

He, however, announced that the suspect died after losing so much blood and his body was deposited at Chingola Hospital Mortuary.

“And because of too much loss of blood, this person later on died and his body is in Chingola District Hospital Mortuary. Not only this bottle of the substance, we also found this ‘Agricon.’ We don’t expect a normal human being to be moving in the night with these types of (material) when we are looking for these same things and these are the things that people are using to spray. And if you continued spraying people with these things, as we have warned you, we will also spray you with our chemicals! So, we are sending a message to people that we do not want them to be moving carelessly in this situation,” Kapeso cautioned.

“And I am glad to confirm that as at 06:00 hours this (Monday) morning, the figures are reducing. We have started with 80 houses affected five days ago; by yesterday, we had 15 houses that were involved in Chingola. As of today, only seven houses were affected after being sprayed and about 30 people were affected and were attended to by medical officers and have since been discharged.”

He also warned other criminals that police would not spare them once caught.

“Our good story is that people are hearing the message. It’s a battle, of course, and since we are in a battle, we want to warn people to stop carrying any suspicious items when the police officers are on patrol because we may lose lives even when we are carrying something genuine. We will not relent. As you can see, we have the numbers, Chingola is small. In the end, we are catching up with various techniques, which we will not tell you, but just know that we are coming for you, wherever you are. We will spray you with our chemicals!” he warned.

Kapeso, however, said the murder incidents on the Copperbelt were not ritual.

And he advised political parties wishing to hold meetings on the Copperbelt to notify police at least seven days in advance or risk falling victims.

“For political parties, if you want to be friends with us, especially on the Copperbelt and in these circumstances, for any gathering, please notify the police, or else you will fall victim,” warned Kapeso.