Zhubei precinct police bureau in Hsinchu County in northern Taiwan. Photo: Google Maps

A runaway migrant worker from Vietnam who was an alleged car thief was shot at least six times and killed by police on Thursday morning in Hsinchu County, northwestern Taiwan.

A citizen filed a report just before 10am that a foreign man was acting oddly and may be set to steal a truck at 1150 Zhonghua Road in Zhubei City, Hsinchu County, The Real Daily reported.

Two officers – one a policeman surnamed Chen and the other from the Civil Defense surnamed Li – arrived at the scene and found a shirtless foreign man sitting inside a vehicle, sabotaging parts in an attempt to steal it.

According to the Liberty Times, the 27-year-old man jumped out of the small truck and started attacking the officers. Li was punched in the face, resulting in a fractured nose and heavy bleeding.

The officers used batons and pepper spray against the suspect, who then jumped into a nearby paddy field to flush his eyes with water and then threw stones at the officers.

Chen allegedly warned he would use his firearm. However, the suspect did not stop and was seen dashing to the unoccupied police vehicle and about to drive it off – that prompted Chen, who was five meters away, to fire shots at him.

The suspect was hit in the abdomen and left leg by six bullets. He was taken to a hospital but pronounced dead at noon.

A preliminary police investigation showed that the suspected thief was a Vietnamese migrant worker registered in Tainan, but he had been on the run for three years and allegedly had a history of stealing vehicles.

A sabotaged motorcycle, which was suspected to be the first vehicle that the man had targeted, was recovered from a nearby paddy field.

Taiwan police did not rule out the possibility that the Vietnamese man may have had a mental illness.

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