The attacker was identified as 47-year-old Tang Yongming from the eastern city of Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, according to an ID card found on his body.
An initial investigation showed that Tang had no "fixed residence or job" in Hangzhou when he came to Beijing on August 1, a spokesman with the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau said.
Zhejiang police said Tang had worked for a meter factory in Hangzhou but had resigned. They didn't say why or when.
He and his wife divorced in 2006. He sold his apartment the same year and had lived in a rented house ever since.
"Tang has no criminal record. His neighbors said they hadn't seen any abnormal behavior from him before left Hangzhou," a spokesman with the Zhejiang Provincial Public Security Bureau said.
The spokesman said Tang was not a petitioner; that is, he had not so far submitted any kind of complaint to government officials.
Tang vacated his rented house on August 1, saying he would move elsewhere to do business, the spokesman said. Tang didn't specify where he would go or what business he intended to do.
Tang has a 21-year-old son who was once sentenced to six months in prison for theft, he said.
"We are now looking for Tang's ex-wife and elder brother, hoping to find out what he did before the incident in Beijing and figure out his motivation," he said.
The murder did not appear to have been pre-meditated. "It seems like a senseless act of violence by a random individual with no motive," says Richard Buangan, spokesperson for the U.S. embassy in Beijing. "They were not targeted because they were Americans." The USOC said the victims had not been wearing any USA apparel.
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