NCO subject of South Korean arrest warrant in BB gun incident
SEOUL — South Korean authorities have issued an arrest warrant for an 8th Army staff sergeant who allegedly was involved in the high-profile car chase last month that led to another soldier being shot by a South Korean police officer.
However, the staff sergeant has not been charged in the March incident, which began when he and another soldier allegedly started shooting one or more BB guns in the crowded entertainment district of Itaewon, near U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan.
The names of those allegedly involved in the incident have not been released by the Army.
South Korea police said the soldiers fled in a car that was driven by the staff sergeant, and were chased across the city by a South Korean police officer riding in a taxi. When the officer got out of the taxi and approached the soldiers, the driver reversed several times, striking the police officer.
During the melee, the officer fired one warning shot and three live rounds, hitting a private first class, who was a passenger, in the chest, according to police reports.
The Ministry of Justice issued the arrest warrant on Wednesday and planned to request that U.S. Forces Korea turn over the staff sergeant to South Korean custody, according to a press release issued Thursday. If USFK agrees to the request, the ministry will confine him as its investigation into the March 2 incident continues, the release said.
The 8th Army issued a statement Friday saying it had received the ministry’s request late Thursday afternoon and was reviewing it.
“Additionally, during the detention hearing the court was informed the individual listed on the request has been in U.S. military pre-trial confinement,” the statement said.
A prosecutor, speaking on customary condition of anonymity, said Friday that the ministry wants to arrest the staff sergeant because it believes he poses a flight risk and that he might destroy evidence.
The prosecutor said officials are considering levying five charges against the staff sergeant, including assault and obstruction of justice. He said the other two soldiers remain under investigation.
A South Korean detective investigating the case said last week that the private will likely not face charges and the third soldier, a corporal, is still under investigation.
The corporal told police during questioning that she had fired a BB gun at passersby “for fun.”