Toronto

What we know about the apparent 'armed kidnapping' of Wanzhen Lu

The vehicle used in what police say was an "armed kidnapping" of a 22-year-old Chinese international student Saturday night in Markham, Ont., has been located in Toronto, police say.

Police locate vehicle used in abduction of Wanzhen Lu, 22, on Saturday in Markham

Wanzhen Lu, 22, a Chinese international student, was forced into a van in the underground parking garage of a condo building in Markham, Ont., on Saturday evening, York Regional Police say. (York Regional Police)

 Chinese international student Wanzhen Lu, 22, who went missing on Saturday from north of Toronto has been found alive and safe, Ontario Provincial Police said on Tuesday. 

Find the latest on the story here.

 


Investigators have located the vehicle used in what police say was the "armed kidnapping" of a 22-year-old Chinese international student Saturday night in Markham, Ont., police say.

York Regional Police spokesperson Const. Andy Pattenden say forensic investigators will now be combing through the van, into which Wanzhen (Peter) Lu was forced moments after he and a female friend got out of a black Range Rover in an underground parking garage at a condo building in the city north of Toronto.

Pattenden says the vehicle was located in Toronto, but wouldn't provide a specific location. Investigators will be scouring the vehicle for clues as to who may have been inside, and where Lu might have been taken.

"Now is the time to seek legal counsel and turn yourself in," he said addressing the captors at a news conference Monday.

Lu was forced into the van by three men, "100 per cent against his will" after he was shocked a number of times with a stun gun, police have said. He has not been heard from since. The female friend wasn't injured, but was reportedly traumatized by what she saw and has been helping police in the investigation.

Family members are on their way to the Greater Toronto Area from China, because they are concerned about his disappearance, Pattenden said Monday.

"I'm sure they are very concerned about the well-being of their family member here who has been taken," he said.

Image of a getaway van that police say was used in the 'armed kidnapping.' It was a black Dodge Caravan with no front licence plate. The back plate, which was stolen, was CEAR350. When the van was recovered Monday, the plate was missing. (York Regional Police)

Here's what we know and don't know about the case:

What we know

Lu was returning with his friend to his condo at 15 Water Walk Dr., in the area of Highway 7 and Birchmount Road, shortly before 6 p.m. ET on Saturday when the van appeared behind them. Pattenden has said Lu and his friend may have been walking toward the elevators of the garage. He goes by the English name "Peter," say police.

Three men, with hoods pulled tightly around their faces, got out of a black Dodge Caravan in the garage. Pattenden has said it's believed the van was already in the garage when Lu and his friend appeared. Police believe the abduction was a targeted one, especially given the female Lu was with was not harmed.

Pattenden characterized the incident as "a very violent attack."

One man, armed with a conductive energy weapon commonly called a Taser, ran up to Lu.

There was a struggle, Lu resisted, and the man shocked him a number of times with the Taser. Police would not say how many times. Lu was "dragged" into the van. Police wouldn't comment on the extent of his injuries.

Here is a back view of the getaway van. (York Regional Police)

The van sped off in an unknown direction. It had no front licence plate. The back plate, which police say was stolen, was CEAR350. The van was wheelchair accessible and had stickers indicating that. Police described it as having "unique markings."

The vehicle has been found, but the plates had been removed. Neither Lu nor the captors have been heard from. Nor are police aware of any demands made in connection with the case.

Officers from York police's major crimes bureau have interviewed witnesses in the building and canvassed the area for surveillance camera video. Video was obtained from the garage itself.

Police have released images of the three men who got out of the van and descriptions of all four suspects including the driver. They have also released a description and two images of the van itself.

Lu was taken from the underground parking garage of this condo complex at 15 Water Walk Dr. (CBC)

Lu, an East Asian male, was said to be wearing glasses, a black hoodie, black jeans and white running shoes when he was abducted.

Police said they are working with the Chinese Consulate in Toronto on the case.

In a statement to CBC Toronto on Sunday, Consul Jinxuan Zhang said the consulate is maintaining close contact and communication with the police, and it has contacted Lu's parents.

"The case is still under investigation. We have no more information," the statement says.

A local resident said the garage is said to be three levels and serves two buildings in the condo complex.

This is the entrance to the underground parking garage where the abduction occurred. (CBC)

What we don't know

Police still don't know the motive or whether those behind the abduction have made contact with Lu's family.

Police have also not said which school Lu is attending, but have said some classmates have made contact with them.

It's not known how long Lu has been attending, how long he has been in Canada or where he is from in China. They have released no information about his parents.

Police are also not releasing security camera footage from the incident yet. They do say there are plenty of cameras in the area that they are continuing to look at.

Police have also not said whether Lu's disappearance is connected in any way with a ransom scam in which fraudsters have tried to get money from the families of young, vulnerable international students from China who are living in Canada — a scam that has targeted students in Toronto, Montreal, Winnipeg and Calgary.

Const. Andy Pattenden, spokesperson for the York Regional Police, says: 'We are very concerned for the safety of our missing person here who has been taken.' (CBC)

"At this point in time, our investigators have not provided us with any other information linking it to any other cases that they may be aware of. They are treating this as a unique situation," Pattenden said Monday. 

In 2017, at least three Chinese international students in the Toronto area fell victim to the ransom scam, which captured attention across the country.

An image of Lu on the day he was abducted. (York Regional Police)

With files from Muriel Draaisma and Adrian Cheung