BEIJING Tragedy struck on the first full day of Olympic contests in Beijing when the father-in-law of U.S. men's volleyball head coach Hugh McCutcheon a former Brigham Young University coach and player was stabbed to death by a lone, knife-wielding assailant.
Todd and Barbara Bachman, also parents of 2004 volleyball Olympian Elisabeth "Wiz" Bachman McCutcheon, were attacked Saturday by a Chinese man while visiting the 13th-century Drum Tower.
The reason for the attack may never be known. After stabbing the Minnesota couple, the assailant, Tang Yongming, 47, from Hangzhou city in eastern China, leapt to his death from a 130-foot high balcony on the tower, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.
The U.S. Olympic Committee confirmed Todd Bachman, chief execu-
tive officer for Bachman's Inc., a home-and-garden center based in Minneapolis, died from knife wounds and that Barbara Bachman suffered life-threatening injuries.
Elisabeth McCutcheon was with her parents at the time but was uninjured.
Relatives said Barbara Bachman had undergone surgery and was in intensive care at a Beijing hospital. "The next 24 hours will be critical," said Dale Bachman, Todd Bachman's second cousin.
The family's tour guide, who also was injured in the attack, was being treated at the hospital, as well.
Two of Todd and Barbara Bachman's other adult daughters were flying to China to be with their mother and Elisabeth, Dale Bachman said at a news conference in Minneapolis.
According to Dale Bachman, Todd Bachman was walking a few steps behind his wife and daughter at a Beijing tourist site when he was attacked. Barbara Bachman heard the commotion and turned to help her husband.
The midday attack sent shock waves through the Games precinct after the Olympics' spectacular opening ceremony had set an ebullient tone.
The Bachmans were said to not be wearing apparel that identified them as relatives of members of the U.S. delegation at the time of the attack.
"It is impossible to describe the depth of our sadness and shock in this tragic hour," said U.S. Olympic Committee chairman Peter Ueberroth. "Our delegation comes to the Games as a family, and when one member of our family suffers a loss, we all grieve with them."
Hugh McCutcheon, who was named the U.S. Olympic team's head coach in 2005, is a former BYU player and assistant coach, playing for the Cougars from 1991-93 and then assisting then-head coach Carl McGown from 1995 to 2001. The New Zealand native also received his bachelor's, master's and MBA degrees at BYU. He won't be on the bench today for his team's match against Venezuela.
"It's just tragic," said U.S. woman's basketball coach Anne Donovan. "I don't know if there's another word for it. We said a prayer for them in the locker room. I get goosebumps talking about it. It's something obviously that just changes the events right now for the Olympic Games."
Violent crime against foreigners is rare in tightly controlled China, and the assault at the Drum Tower occurred despite major security measures that have blanketed the capital city during the Olympics: a 100,000-strong security force plus countless volunteer guards have been deployed to protect against any trouble.
Beijing's Communist leaders are hypersensitive about anything that could take the shine off the games. China's Foreign Ministry said it had no immediate comment on the attack.
Interpol said initial investigations found nothing indicating the murder 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.
Tang's name was run through computers containing more than 178,000 individuals, including 12,000 suspected terrorists, and came up blank. But Noble noted that the investigation was not complete.
Interpol said Tang had apparently recently divorced and had not been seen by relatives for two months.
Chinese Internet users, some of them concerned that the assault would embarrass the nation during the Olympics, launched a "human search engine" to track down details of the killer and his family and expose them to humiliation and retaliation.
Tang acted alone, Xinhua said. It also said Tang was not a petitioner, as people with grievances against the government are commonly called, although a 21-year-old son was once sentenced to prison for theft.
"We are now looking for Tang's ex-wife and elder brother, hoping to find out what he did before the incident in Beijing and figure out his motivation," the police spokesman told Xinhua.
U.S. Ambassador Clark T. Randt visited the victims in hospital, and the embassy issued a statement later that said the attack "appears to be a senseless act of violence."
E-mail: [email protected]