Safety a premium after tragedy

Safety the issue on Saturday

BEIJING -- Many members of the United States baseball team were together at a nearby silk market on Saturday, buying suits and bartering with local merchants, at the same time that a lone Chinese assailant wielding a knife attacked two family members of a U.S. men's volleyball coach, along with their guide, killing one relative before leaping to his death from the 13th-century Drum Tower in downtown Beijing.

U.S. manager Davey Johnson first heard about the bizarre attack later in the day, after his team's two-hour intrasquad scrimmage from 6-8 p.m. local time at Wukesong Stadium. The USA Baseball contingent received the brief statement via email from the U.S. Olympic Committee, as did representatives of all other teams in the U.S. delegation in Beijing.

"We haven't been told of anything beyond that first statement, but I would expect that each team will be updated regarding security," said Paul Siler, executive director of USA Baseball. "I believe they had been waiting to get more information. We do know it was a lone assailant."

A subsequent USOC statement identified the murder victim as Todd Bachman of Lakeville, Minn., father-in-law of U.S. men's indoor volleyball head coach Hugh McCutcheon and father of McCutcheon's wife, 2004 U.S. Olympic women's indoor volleyball player Elisabeth Bachman McCutcheon. Bachman's wife Barbara is in a local hospital with life-threatening injuries, and representatives of USOC and the U.S. Embassy are assisting the family at the hospital. Elisabeth Bachman McCutcheon was with them at the time of the attack and was not injured.

The attack happened shortly after midday, according to the statement from USOC. Johnson, his wife and numerous baseball players were at the silk fair -- a popular tourist destination -- all wearing street clothes. Darryl Seibel, a spokesman for USOC, said the victims of the attack were not wearing anything that identified them as Americans or as part of an Olympic delegation.

The tragedy came a day after an Opening Ceremony that was one of the most memorable in the Olympic history, a lavish and high-tech spectacle at the Bird's Nest that still had attendees buzzing on Saturday.

The U.S. baseball team was still awaiting further details Saturday night.

Seibel said the volleyball team was "deeply saddened and shocked," and added that it was "too early to say" whether the U.S. delegation or athletes will require additional security.

"It is impossible to describe the depth of our sadness and shock in this tragic hour," said USOC chairman Peter Ueberroth. "Our delegation comes to the Games as a family, and when one member of our family suffers a loss, we all grieve with them. Our thoughts, prayers and deepest condolences are with the Bachman and McCutcheon families."

The official Xinhua News Agency identified the attacker as Tang Yongming, 47, from the eastern city of Hangzhou. It said Tang attacked the two Americans and a Chinese tour guide, killing one American, injuring another and the guide, at 12:20 p.m. on the second level of the ancient tower, then leapt to his death immediately afterward. The second level of the tower is about 130 feet high.

The White House said President George W. Bush, who is in Beijing for the opening days of the Games, was informed of the incident, and that his heart goes out to the families of the victims. It said the administration and the U.S. embassy in Beijing have offered those families any assistance they need.

Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. The Associated Press contributed to this story. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.