Nation & World

U.S. Olympic chief says slaying in Beijing was not political

BEIJING — The chairman of the U.S. Olympic Committee said Friday that investigators "really went deep" into details of a brutal knife attack of an American couple that rattled the beginning of the Summer Games, and concluded that the Chinese assailant had no political motive against Americans.

Peter V. Ueberroth, the USOC chairman, told McClatchy Newspapers that the assailant did not at first target the American couple.

"The first person attacked was a Chinese," Ueberroth said, referring to a tour guide accompanying Todd and Barbara Bachman as they toured the Drum Tower, an ancient landmark in Beijing, on Aug. 9.

The knife wielder wounded the tour guide, who state media has only identified by her surname, Duan, then stabbed and killed Todd Bachman and wounded his wife. Unharmed was their daughter, Elisabeth "Wiz" Bachman McCutcheon, a 2004 U.S. volleyball Olympian who is married to the current coach of the U.S. men's indoor volleyball team, Hugh McCutcheon.

Coming only hours after the opening of the Olympic Games, the slaying sent a chill through the U.S. Olympic squad amid concern that the brutal attack might have been a hate crime against foreigners. At least one critic said Chinese and U.S. officials sought to sweep the attack under the rug.

Ueberroth said the initial hours after the attack were tense.

"We were very worried," he said. "We investigated it so thoroughly, beyond any expectation you might have, I can tell you."

Ueberroth said investigators found "an immense amount of details" about the assailant, Tang Yongming, 47, but declined to elaborate. "I don't want to create another story."

Tang jumped to his death from the Drum Tower, leaping over a balcony balustrade and landing on a rocky surface, after the knife attack.

Ueberroth described Tang, a homeless, jobless divorced man, as "a crazy" and said his deranged actions were unpredictable but not oriented specifically toward killing foreigners.

Barbara Bachman spent a week in a Beijing hospital before being transferred to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., where she was making steady recovery from life-threatening stab wounds to her abdomen and listed in good condition.

The 26-year-old Chinese tour guide was released from the Sino-Japanese Friendship Hospital in Beijing on Aug. 18 after recovering from stabbing, the state Xinhua news agency said. She has not spoken publicly and could not be located.

Neither U.S. nor Chinese authorities initially released much information about the attack, afraid the slaying would roil the Olympics and embarrass China.

David Wallechinsky, an Olympic historian, voiced doubt about assertions that Tang chose victims at random.

"I don't think this story is anything like the way they've portrayed it. I think this guy chose to do this," Wallechinsky said. "Given the site of the attack, he was making a political statement."

Ueberroth disputed that.

"When you have a crazy, you can't say what the crazy's going to do," he said.