SEPANG: Police refrained from ‘engaging’ the suspect in yesterday’s shooting incident at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) Terminal 1 to avoid jeopardising public safety, said Selangor police chief Datuk Hussein Omar Khan (pix).

He said the area where the suspect opened fire was crowded and engaging him could have led to a more serious incident.

“It was better to let the suspect leave the area and keep members of the public safe. If we engaged him, there would have been a shootout. There were children among the many people there,” he said, addressing questions why police did not apprehend the suspect.

He told reporters this after witnessing the handing over of duties as KLIA district police chief from SAC Imran Abd Rahman to ACP Azman Shari’at here today.

Hussein said police and airport security personnel had responded swiftly to the shooting.

In the 1.20 am incident, the suspect fired two shots at his wife at the entrance of the arrival hall but missed, and one shot hit her bodyguard in the abdomen. The suspect fled in a car and headed towards the north.

The bodyguard was seriously injured and admitted to hospital, and Hussein said his condition was reported to be stable.

Police said the suspect had a personal vendetta against his wife and they were in the process of getting a divorce.

Hussein said police had recorded statements from 11 witnesses, including the suspect’s wife, policemen and airport security personnel.

“We will interview several more people, including business partners (of the wife),” he added.

Hussein said police have stepped up the manhunt for the suspect, who is believed to be still in the country.

Police are looking for Hafizul Harawi, 38, to help in investigations.

In GEORGE TOWN, Penang deputy police chief Datuk Mohd Alwi Zainal Abidin said police had increased surveillance and checks to trace the suspect.

In KOTA BHARU, Kelantan police chief Datuk Muhamad Zaki Harun said police had tightened checks throughout the state, including the Malaysia-Thailand border areas.