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U.S. soldier confesses to attacking S. Korean police officer in car chase

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Published : 2013-03-11 21:22
Updated : 2013-03-11 21:22

An American soldier, who has been under investigation over shooting a BB gun at pedestrians and fleeing police in a car along with two other service members, confessed on Monday that he was driving the vehicle and had attacked a South Korean police officer last week.

The 26-year-old staff sergeant, who serves in the 8th U.S. Army at Yongsan Garrison, voluntarily appeared before South Korean police with his lawyer and a U.S. representative to give the testimony over the March 2 late-night car chase.

His confession came after police questioned two other service members -- a 23-year-old private first class and a 22-year-old female specialist -- over shooting a BB gun at crowds in the multicultural Itaewon district and fleeing in a car, leading to the police pursuit.

A police officer who chased the soldiers shot at the car as it tried to rush by him. In the process, the private first class was hit by a stray bullet and the officer's leg was injured.

While earlier accounts from the soldiers differed on who drove the car, the staff sergeant said he took the wheel that night and also shot the BB gun into crowd, according to police.

A female specialist had earlier confessed to shooting the BB gun at people for fun.

Police said they are considering pressing charges of obstruction of duty and traffic offenses against those involved.

"It is premature to say whether to put him under arrest or not, as it is not clear why they fled in a car," an official at Yongsan Police Station said. "We don't exclude the possibility of asking for an arrest warrant."

Police believe the suspect confessed to his charge in an attempt to lessen his sentence.

The incident spurred public outcry over lenient punishment on American soldiers based in the nation, and even rekindled calls for revising the controversial Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) that governs the legal status of the 28,500 American soldiers stationed in South Korea. (Yonhap News)

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