U.S. soldier shot after police chase

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U.S. soldier shot after police chase

A pair of American soldiers threatened civilians with what was thought to be a BB gun and then engaged in a car chase with local police in the international district of Itaewon, central Seoul, late Saturday night.

One soldier was shot by a Korean police officer during the chase.

The Yongsan Police Precinct in central Seoul said yesterday two police officers surnamed Gwak and Bae from Itaewon Police Station were dispatched immediately after receiving a report from a Seoul citizen who said, “U.S. soldiers are shooting something like an air gun,” near the Hamilton Hotel at 11:53 p.m. on Saturday.

Gwak and Bae found three people - a 23-year-old private, first class, a 26-year-old staff sergeant and an unidentified woman - in a gray Kia Optima sedan parked on the street near Itaewon Station of subway line No. 6.

The police approached the sedan, but the people in the car refused to identify themselves and fled. The soldiers collided with a few cars on the street.

A 30-year-old police officer surnamed Lim was near the scene helping a foreigner who was locked up in a bank ATM booth when a taxi driver surnamed Choi, 38, who witnessed the soldiers running away from the subway station, told him what he saw and asked the officer to get in his cab.

Officer Lim and the taxi driver chased the soldiers who drove their car up to 160 kilometers per hour (99 miles per hour) and eventually followed them into a dead end in Seongsu-dong, Gwangjin District, eastern Seoul, at 12:10 a.m. yesterday.

The American soldiers in the vehicle drove at Lim four times after seeing the officer getting out of the taxi. Lim fired a blank into the air as a warning and then fired three live bullets into the car, but the soldiers fled after hitting Lim in the knee with their car.

The police later found that the Optima sedan belongs to the U.S. Army after tracing the license plate of the vehicle and also found that the 23-year-old private, first class, who drove the car is hospitalized at the Brian Allgood Army Community Hospital after being shot in the left shoulder.

The police said the injury isn’t life-threatening.

The police said the private who was thought to have driven the car denied his involvement.

By Jeong Jong-moon, Kwon Sang-soo [sakwon80@joongang.co.kr]

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