One U.S. soldier admitted Monday that he and two colleagues shot a Korean civilian with a BB gun, hit a policeman with a car and ran away on a rampage in Itaewon on Saturday night, police said.
The 26-year-old staff sergeant identified by his surname “Lopez” by the police presented himself under escort at 2 p.m. at Yongsan Police Station in Seoul, and admitted most of accusations against him, according to a senior officer.
“Staff Sgt. Lopez is cooperating in the investigation. He admitted most of allegations,” he said.
A second suspect identified by police by her first name “Wendy” appeared at the station at 6:00 p.m. Police said that they suspect the 21-year-old corporal shot the BB gun at a Korean citizen surnamed Ahn based on testimony by Ahn and other police officers who approached them.
Police delayed summoning the third suspect, identified by them as a 23-year-old specialist named “Dixon,” as he was in a military hospital after being shot in the shoulder during a car chase through Seoul.
According to police, Dixon told U.S. military police he was shot by an Arab but police have asked the U.S. Army to hand over the bullet he was wounded with as evidence, as they believe it was fired by a policeman.
The three soldiers fled in an Optima sedan after refusing to cooperate with police officers who had been dispatched to Itaewon Subway Station after receiving calls that American soldiers were threatening civilians with a BB gun.
The trio allegedly tried to run over a police officer on a dead-end street, prompting him to fire a warning blank and three live bullets at the car. The three soldiers eventually fled to the U.S. base.
The wounded driver is said to be in a stable condition. A police officer and one civilian suffered minor injuries, police officials said.
The damaged Optima was discovered by police near the Yongsan base earlier in the day and was sent to a forensic team for investigation.
“U.S. military officials told us the specialist is not currently available for questioning because he is hospitalized and taking painkillers,” a police officer said. “We are in talks with U.S. military officials to proceed with the investigation in two or three days.”
Police said they plan to seek charges of obstruction of official duties and traffic violations against the three.
The U.S. Forces Korea said it regretted the incident and pledged to cooperate with the police.
It is uncertain whether the police will be able to hold them accountable for the crimes given past record. According to data from the prosecutors’ office, 6.1 percent of 344 crimes alleged against U.S. servicemen here were indicted in 2011.
In July last year, seven U.S. military police officers at a camp in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province were investigated for allegedly handcuffing three civilians over a parking dispute near the camp. However, the investigation of the suspects has made no progress, with none of the suspects indicted yet, according to police.
About 28,500 American troops are stationed in South Korea to help deter North Korea, as the 1950-53 Korean War ended in an armistice, not a peace treaty.