Home News US coach's in-laws a...

US coach's in-laws attacked in Beijing

Aug. 09, 2008, 1:33 p.m. (ET)

BEIJING (AP) Two Americans closely linked to the U.S. Olympic volleyball team were stabbed, one fatally, in a bizarre attack Saturday atop an ancient landmark in the Chinese capital on the first day of the Beijing Games.

The knife-wielding assailant, a Chinese man, then threw himself to his death immediately after the attack on a high balcony of the 13th century Drum Tower, just five miles (eight kilometers) from the main Olympics site, officials said.

Todd Bachman, the father of former Olympic volleyballer Elisabeth "Wiz" Bachman and the father-in-law of men's volleyball coach Hugh McCutcheon, was slain in the attack, the U.S. Olympic Committee said in a statement.

His wife, Barbara, sustained "serious and life-threatening" injuries and was rushed to a hospital, where she underwent surgery. A female Chinese tour guide with them was also injured and rushed to a hospital. Elisabeth Bachman was with her parents when the attack occurred, but was not injured.

"It is impossible to describe the depth of our sadness and shock in this tragic hour," said U.S. Olympic Committee Chairman Peter Ueberroth in the statement. "Our delegation comes to the games as a family, and when one member of our family suffers a loss, we all grieve with them."

The attack shortly after midday at the site darkened the mood in the Olympic city just hours after the spectacular opening ceremony 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 on state-controlled television's main evening news bulletin, though it was reported by the official Xinhua News Agency, in reports carried widely by other Chinese media.

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

Xinhua identified the attacker as Tang Yongming, a 47-year-old factory worker from the eastern city of Hangzhou with no criminal record, who divorced and moved out of his family home in 2006 and arrived in Beijing on Aug. 1 this year.

No motive for the attack was known.

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," said Interpol Secretary General Ronald K. Noble, after Tang's name was run through computers containing more than 178,000 individuals, including 12,000 suspected terrorists, and came up blank.

U.S. Olympic Committee spokesman Darryl Seibel said the two American victims were not wearing 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.

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

U.S. Ambassador Clark T. Randt visited the victims at Peking Union Medical College Hospital, where deputy of surgery Wang Yipeng told reporters Barbara Bachman had been operated on and was undergoing further treatment. He would not say how long the surgery lasted or give other details, saying the family had requested privacy.

International Olympic Committee members and U.S. President George W. Bush, who is in Beijing, expressed their condolences over the attack.

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, saying it had caused "a down day" for the American team.

"Here it is supposed to be a great time of happiness and peace and all that," he said. "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."

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

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 tourist city of Xi'an was shot dead by a police sniper.

Shanghai and Beijing are still safer than most big cities. Punishments for crimes against foreigners are heavier than those committed 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 Writer Stephen Wilson and correspondent Cara Anna in Beijing contributed to this report.