American missionary killed by island tribe wrote letter to parents: 'I've been shot'

An American adventurer has been killed by an isolated Indian island tribe, which are known to shoot at outsiders with bows and arrows.

Thursday, 22nd November 2018, 1:15 pm
Updated Thursday, 22nd November 2018, 2:22 pm
John Allen Chau's family have posted a tribute to him on his Instagram profile

Visits to the North Sentinel Island are heavily restricted by the government, as the Sentinelese people on the small forested Andaman island are known to resist contact with outsiders, often attacking anyone who comes near.

Dependra Pathak, director-general of police on India's Andaman and Nicobar Islands, said seven fishermen have been arrested for helping the American visit North Sentinel Island, where the killing occurred.

The American has now been identified as John Allen Chau, who earlier described himself at a hotel as 26 years old and from Alabama.

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John Allen Chau's family have posted a tribute to him on his Instagram profile

Mr Chau was apparently killed by arrows, but the cause of death cannot be confirmed until his body is recovered.

'I’ve been shot by the Sentinelese'

Mr Chau wrote to his parents hours before his death to say that he wanted to “declare Jesus” to the tribespeople and that they should “not be angry at them or at God if I get killed”.

In the letter which was given to media outlets by his parents, Mr Chau writes that one of the tribespeople – “a kid probably about 10 or so years old, maybe a teenager” – fired an arrow that struck his Bible: “Well, I’ve been shot by the Sentinelese.”

Visits to North Sentinel island are heavily restricted by the government

The next day as he prepared to make another approach, Chau wrote a letter to his parents:

“You guys might think I’m crazy in all this, but I think it’s worth it to declare Jesus to these people”.

“Please do not be angry at them or at God if I get killed. Rather, please live your lives in obedience to whatever he has called you to and I’ll see you again when you pass through the veil.

“This is not a pointless thing. The eternal lives of this tribe is at hand and I can’t wait to see them around the throne of God worshipping in their own language, as Revelations 7:9-10 states.”

He signed off: “Soli deo gloria” (glory to God alone).

Police trying to recover body

Police have now approached anthropologists with contacts on the island, in an effort to visit and recover the body.

Police said that Mr Chau arrived in the region on October 16 and stayed in a hotel while he prepared to visit the prohibited island.

He organised his visit to the island through a friend who hired seven fishermen for 325 US dollars (£254) to take him there on a boat, which also towed his kayak.

Police said that Mr Chau went ashore in his kayak on November 15 and sent the boat with the fishermen out to sea in order to avoid detection.

Mr Chau is then said to have interacted with some of the tribespeople, giving them gifts he had prepared such as a football and fish.

However, it is reported that the tribespeople then became angry with Mr Chau and shot an arrow at him, which is said to have hit a book he was carrying.

The American's kayak then became damaged, so he swam to the fishermen's boat, which was waiting at a prearranged location.

Mr Chau spent the night at the prearranged located, where he wrote out his experiences on pages of paper which he gave to the fishermen, police said.

He set out again to meet the tribespeople on November 16, but on the morning of the following day, the waiting fishermen from a distance saw his body being dragged by tribesmen.

'Misdirected adventure'

The fishermen then left for Port Blair, the capital of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, where they informed Mr Chau's friend, who then notified his family.

Mr Pathak said: "It was a case of misdirected adventure”.

The seven fishermen have now been charged with endangering the life of the American by taking him to a prohibited area.

On an recent Instagram post, Mr Chau’s family said: “We recently learned from an unconfirmed report that John Allen Chau was reported killed in India while reaching out to members of the Sentinelese tribe in the Andaman Islands.”