Hong Kong Police Shoot a Protester, 18, With a Live Bullet for the First Time

Hong Kong Police Shoot a Protester, 18, With a Live Bullet for the First Time

HONG KONG — A Hong Kong police officer on Tuesday shot a teenage demonstrator, the first time in months of protests that a live round was fired at a protester. The shooting capped an evening of violent protests, escalating the territory’s political crisis on the same day that the central government staged a huge military parade in Beijing to celebrate 70 years of Communist control.

The protesters in Hong Kong hoped to upstage Beijing’s celebrations by holding their own unauthorized marches. Violence quickly broke out, as demonstrators in districts across the city engaged in some of the bloodiest and most sustained clashes since protesters began taking to the streets in early June.

The split screen — pageantry in Beijing versus violence, tear gas and street fires in a restive Chinese territory — was hardly the image that China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, had hoped to show the world.

The protester was shot in the Tsuen Wan district of northern Hong Kong. Tsuen Wan is a working-class area near Hong Kong’s border with the Chinese mainland, miles from the city’s gleaming financial district.

Yolanda Yu, a spokeswoman for the Hong Kong Police Force, said in a video posted on the force’s Facebook page that the protester was an 18-year-old who had been shot in the left shoulder. She said the protester was conscious as he was taken to the hospital.

Local news media reported that the young man was a high school student.

Ms. Yu said the officer who shot the protester had been under attack by violent “rioters” who were threatening officers’ lives. “In order to save himself and his colleagues, he fired one shot at the attacker,” she said.

The Hong Kong police commissioner, Stephen Lo, told reporters at a late-night news conference that doctors were treating the young man who had been shot. He said the protester had been arrested and that the authorities would decide later whether to press charges of assaulting a police officer.

Mr. Lo said the officer who shot the protester on Tuesday acted in a “legal and reasonable” manner by giving a verbal warning before he opened fire. The officer had been assaulted at close quarters, Mr. Lo said, and had no other choice but to fire a live bullet.

“The range was not determined by the police officer, but by the perpetrator,” he said.

The police force also said on Twitter that there had been “rioting acts” on Tuesday across Kowloon, Hong Kong Island and the New Territories — the three main areas of the city.

Hong Kong’s Hospital Authority later said that 51 people had been sent to the hospital by early Tuesday evening, two of them in critical condition.

In a video circulating online, an officer is seen firing a handgun at close range at a protester wearing a black T-shirt and a pink gas mask.

In the video, the protester who was shot is first seen joining a black-clad mob of people who chase a riot officer and tackle him to the ground. They kick him and beat him with what appear to be metal pipes.

At one point, the protester approaches a second police officer who is standing nearby with a handgun drawn. Just after the protester hits the officer with the pipe, the officer fires at the man at point-blank range.

A few seconds later, a gasoline bomb thrown from offscreen — presumably by a protester — lands at the feet of the officer who fired the shot. In another video, the protester who was shot is seen being treated by paramedics.

The video of the shooting was filmed by a reporter from Campus TV, a student-run television station at the University of Hong Kong, and provided to The New York Times by another reporter at the station.

The Hong Kong police have fired hundreds of rounds of tear gas, rubber bullets and beanbag rounds to disperse street demonstrations since the protests began in June. On a few occasions, officers have fired live rounds into the air as warning shots, typically when they were surrounded by violent protesters.

Tuesday’s shooting was almost certain to further inflame protesters who have accused the police of employing overly aggressive tactics in the streets. Calls for an independent inquiry into the police’s behavior are among the key demands that protesters have issued to the Hong Kong government.

Natalie Chan, a university student who was protesting on Tuesday night in the Tuen Mun district, not far from Tsuen Wan, said that the Hong Kong police were “hurting innocent people.”

“We can’t let them continue,” Ms. Chan said of the police, as other protesters bashed traffic lights and the windows of shops and restaurants.

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