U.S. Soldiers Fired BB Gun 'for Fun'

U.S. soldiers accused of firing a BB gun at pedestrians in the Itaewon bar district in Seoul and leading police on a 12-km high-speed car chase told investigators they fired the air gun for fun.

Yongsan police on Tuesday said two of the three U.S. soldiers involved in the incident agreed to undergo drug tests. Their hair and urine samples were sent to the National Forensic Service for testing.

"A test using a kit showed no traces of drugs, but we requested a more thorough test by the NFS since simple tests cannot detect traces of all drugs."

A third U.S. soldier who is in hospital with a gunshot wound is still on painkillers, but police asked American military authorities to collect his hair and urine samples for drug testing.

The two others appeared at Yongsan Police Station on Monday and admitted to firing the BB gun and speeding away in their car when a police officer approached them. But they offered conflicting accounts of who had played the leading role in the incident, according to police.

The car of the three U.S. soldiers speeds away as a police officer approaches it in Itaewon, Seoul on Saturday night. /Courtesy of Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency The car of the three U.S. soldiers speeds away as a police officer approaches it in Itaewon, Seoul on Saturday night. /Courtesy of Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency

Korean investigators and interpreters visited the U.S. military hospital in the American military base in Yongsan on Tuesday afternoon to question the soldier who had been shot by a Korean police patrolman. The injured soldier, who failed to appear before police on Monday citing his condition, apparently told investigators that it was the other two who fired the air gun.

"The accounts given by the soldier in hospital of who drove the car are only consistent with what was said by one of the other two soldiers, a woman," a police spokesman said. "We plan to cross-examine the other two soldiers on Wednesday morning."

The soldiers told police that they sped away from the scene on Saturday night because they were afraid of police and bystanders trying to approach them. They told police that they bought the BB gun in a shop in Itaewon.

"The U.S. soldiers said they were very scared and do not remember hitting the police patrolman with their car," the police spokesman said, referring to officer Im Sung-mook, who chased after the soldiers in a taxi cab and fired live rounds after they tried to run him over.

The soldiers claim they shot the BB gun at street signs, not at pedestrians.

Meanwhile, Chris Gentry, the deputy commanding general of the Eighth U.S. Army, visited Im in hospital, where he is being treated for a leg wound, and apologized for the incident.

englishnews@chosun.com / Mar. 06, 2013 10:22 KST