SEOUL, South Korea – Three American soldiers, including one who is wounded, are under investigation today after their alleged BB gun attacks on South Korean civilians escalated into the soldiers trying to run over a police officer and real gunshots were fired by police, authorities said.
The incident began late Saturday night at the busy cross street in front of Itaewon’s Hamilton Hotel when a South Korean citizen reported to the police that U.S. soldiers – two men and one woman – were firing at him and others on the streets from inside a gray Kia car.
The soldiers have been identified as a sergeant, a corporal and a private.
When police arrived, the soldiers refused to get out of the vehicle and drove through a half-dozen officers and citizens trying to block them from fleeing the scene, the head detective at the Yongsan Police Station told ABCNews.com. The officer declined to be identified beyond his rank.
An officer chased them in a taxi and cornered the soldiers in a dead-end alley in eastern Seoul. He fired several shots when the driver drove back and forth and fled after hitting the officer, the detective said. They escaped into the U.S. Army base which is off limits to South Korean police jurisdiction. The private is being treated for a gunshot wound on his shoulder but is in stable condition at Brian Allgood Community Hospital, police said.
“Service members involved in incidents of this nature are routinely tested for intoxicating substances. Initial results do not indicate the presence of alcohol,” said Andrew Mutter, public affairs office chief at the U.S. 8th Army in Seoul.
Their vehicle was found early Monday morning with about 30 BB metal pellets scattered inside it, police said. Pellets were also found at the Itaewon streets. But the gun was not discovered, the detective said.
The staff sergeant and the corporal are being questioned by the Korean authorities with U.S. Army officers present. The injured private is to be available for questioning in the next few days.
About 28,500 U.S. troops are stationed in South Korea.
Cho Long Park and Joanne Kim contributed to this report.