Attacked Americans identified as US coach in-laws

Aug. 09, 2008, 11:35 a.m. (ET)

BEIJING (AP) The parents of a former U.S. Olympian were stabbed, her father fatally, in a bizarre attack atop an ancient landmark in the Chinese capital on Saturday, the first day of the Beijing Games, officials and a person briefed on the incident said.

The assailant, a Chinese man, then committed suicide by throwing himself from a balcony of the 13th century Drum Tower, just five miles (eight kilometers) from the main Olympics site, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

The two Americans attacked are Todd and Barbara Bachman, the parents of former Olympian Elisabeth "Wiz" Bachman, said the person who was in a meeting at which USA Volleyball chief executive Doug Beal told players of the incident. He requested anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss it. Bachman is married to U.S. men's volleyball coach Hugh McCutcheon.

Todd Bachman was killed. His wife, Barbara, was hospitalized.

Another person with knowledge of the attack confirmed Bachman's father had died.

The attack shortly after midday at the site darkened the mood in the Olympics host city just hours after the spectacular opening ceremony had set an ebullient tone following years of nervous buildup.

It was another headache for China's communist leadership, which has planned meticulously for a flawless games and deployed a 100,000-strong security force plus countless volunteer guards to protect against any trouble.

The attack was not mentioned in the main evening news bulletin on state-controlled television, though it was reported by the official Xinhua News Agency. Xinhua's report of the attack was widely used by Chinese-language media online.

The slaying was all the more shocking because of the rarity of violent crime against foreigners in tightly controlled China. China's Foreign Ministry said it had no immediate comment on the attack.

Xinhua identified the attacker as Tang Yongming, 47, from the eastern city of Hangzhou. It said Tang attacked the two Americans and their Chinese tour guide, who was also wounded, at 12:20 p.m. on the second level of the ancient tower, then leapt 130 feet (40 meters) to his death.

Interpol said initial investigations signaled there was nothing to suggest the attack was linked to terrorism or organized crime.

"So far, our database check and preliminary analysis suggest that today's murder-suicide was an isolated, though brutal, murder of one person and assault on two others accompanying the victim," Interpol Secretary General Ronald K. Noble said in a statement, though he noted the investigation was not complete.

Darryl Seibel, a spokesman for the U.S. Olympic Committee, said the volleyball team were "deeply saddened and shocked" by the attack.

He said the two victims "were not wearing apparel or anything that would have specifically identified them as being members of our delegation" or as Americans. It was "too early to say" whether security would be upgraded for the U.S. team, he added.

International Olympic Committee members and U.S. officials expressed condolences over the attack, but said they did not believe it was directly related to the games.

"We don't believe this was targeted at American citizens, and we don't believe this has anything to do with the Olympics," Embassy spokeswoman Susan Stevenson said.

IOC president Jacques Rogge and his top lieutenants met with American Olympic officials to discuss the attack.

"For all intents, it appears to be a random attack by a deranged man," U.S. member Jim Easton told The Associated Press.

"It's certainly a down day, certainly for the U.S. people," he said. "Here it is supposed to be a great time of happiness and peace and all that. That's what we work hard for, then for one person to be able to put a dark cloud on that..."

Jennie Finch, a member of the U.S. softball team, said her heart skipped a beat when she heard about the attack, but was undaunted.

"I'm here with my husband and son, so it's not easy but we're living our dreams and we're not going to live in fear," she said. "We're going to go out there every day and enjoy every day and celebrate it."

U.S. Ambassador Clark T. Randt visited the victims at a hospital and conveyed the condolences of U.S. President George W. Bush, who is in Beijing.

The U.S. Embassy said in a statement that it would not issue names or details of the victims out of respect for their families, but said the second American in the attack was seriously injured in "what appears to be a senseless act of violence." The statement said the victims' daughter was with them during the attack, but was not injured.

Elisabeth Bachman, 29, was on the American women's indoor volleyball team in the Athens Olympics in 2004, according to her official player profile online.

The exact details of the attack, including the motive and the weapon used, were not clear.

Interpol said Tang's name had not shown up in a database of more than 178,000 individuals, including 12,000 suspected terrorists. It said Tang had apparently recently divorced and had not been seen by relatives for two months.

Attacks on foreigners in China are extremely rare. A Canadian model was murdered last month in Shanghai - police said she stumbled onto a burglary. In March, a screaming, bomb-strapped hostage-taker who commandeered a bus with 10 Australians aboard in the popular tourist city of Xi'an was shot dead by a police sniper.

Shanghai and Beijing are still safer than most cities of their size. Punishments for crimes against foreigners are heavier than for crimes against Chinese, and police-linked neighborhood watch groups are highly vigilant. Chinese are not allowed to own guns.

Still, the U.S. government now warns Americans against muggings, beatings and even carjackings, especially in the nightlife and shopping districts of large cities.

Built in the 13th century, the Drum Tower is one of few ancient structures still in fast-developing Beijing. Drummers pounded their massive instruments on the hour to let people in the imperial city know the time.


AP Sports Writers Jimmy Golen and Stephen Wilson in Beijing contributed to this report.