Police NSF who died from gunshot wound lost about S$10,000 to job scam: Coroner’s court
SINGAPORE: A full-time police national serviceman who died of a gunshot wound to his head at the Special Operations Command (SOC) base lost about S$10,000 to a job scam, a coroner’s court heard on Wednesday (Feb 1).
Mr Finnegan Tan Yao Jie also expressed suicidal thoughts to family members and a colleague, and his superiors had considered barring him from firearms for a period of time.
Mr Tan was found dead, aged 21, in a toilet cubicle at the SOC, with a revolver drawn from the police armoury on Aug 30, 2021.
The inquiry into Mr Tan’s death opened on Wednesday, with an investigating officer taking the stand to share his findings.
Mr Tan was found inside the toilet on the morning of Aug 30, 2021. Witnesses heard the gunshot, and there was no one else in the toilet when Mr Tan is believed to have fired the shot to his head, the court heard.
When his body was discovered, officers at the scene shouted for help and trained medics aided Mr Tan, but no pulse was detected.
He was declared dead by paramedics who arrived shortly at the scene.
THE INSTAGRAM POST
According to the investigating officer, Mr Tan made a private Instagram post before the shooting, saying that he was going to die.
He said he wanted to kill himself for various reasons, including that he had been cheated of money belonging to his father. He also expressed hatred towards a secondary schoolmate.
Mr Tan lodged a police report saying he was a victim of an e-commerce job scam. He said he lost more than S$10,200, of which he had borrowed S$7,000 from his father.
The job scam ran on the ruse that he would earn more dividends if he put in more money.
The coroner asked if there was any indication of suicidal ideation by Mr Tan in his conversations with his next-of-kin.
The investigating officer said there were two people who fit the bill – Mr Tan’s sister and Mr Tan’s cousin.
Mr Tan’s sister said he became emotional during Chinese New Year in February 2021.
Out of the blue, he asked her what she would do if he was gone or dead. He did not elaborate much and his sister did not probe further, said the officer.
At a Chinese New Year gathering that year, Mr Tan grew “upset over some trivial matters”, continued the officer.
He went to the roof with his cousin and said he had contemplated suicide about six months earlier.
Mr Tan then said he wanted to take his own life. As it was “just a conversation”, the cousin did not think much of it, said the investigating officer.
After he was cheated of the money, Mr Tan spoke to his father about potentially seeing a psychiatrist, the court heard.
“He was very upset about himself making this mistake, and he suggested to (his father) to see whether he should see a psychiatrist, but he was brushed off,” said the officer.
Mr Tan’s laptop was sent for forensic investigations after his death. His web history revealed that in the months before the incident, he had searched for suicide, shooting with gloves and how to write a will.
SUPERVISORS CONSIDERED BARRING HIM FROM FIREARMS
Mr Tan’s supervisors in the police force considered barring him from firearms for a period of time after they caught wind of the scam.
However, the case did not fit into the category of “financial embarrassment”, where a person owes money and cannot pay it off.
The investigating officer said Mr Tan’s supervisor “did his due diligence” and spoke with him to make an assessment of his condition.
Mr Tan’s colleague also heard him shouting in a restroom at the SOC base in mid-2021, saying he had almost killed himself the day before.
The colleague did not know the reason for the outburst and did not ask Mr Tan about it, but this was reported to Mr Tan’s supervisor.
At the time, Mr Tan was supposed to leave work to attend a course for a few weeks, during which he would not be armed. After the course, he was supposed to be transferred to a new troop.
When the supervisor heard about the shouting incident, he informed the supervisor of the new troop.
According to the investigating officer, the supervisor also spoke to Mr Tan, who said he did not have suicidal tendencies and that it was just an outburst.
The supervisor was trained to provide psychological support and give appropriate assessments, the court heard. He observed Mr Tan and found that he did not appear to be having suicidal ideations and did not appear to be depressed.
The supervisor also asked other troop members to look after Mr Tan.
He was still assessing Mr Tan and deciding on whether to bar him from firearms when the incident occurred.
State Coroner Adam Nakhoda asked the investigating officer to furnish further documents, including documents to explain the Instagram post and if there were any changes in standard operating procedures after the incident.
The findings will be given at a later date.