U.S. soldier held after knife attack near Osan
By Franklin Fisher and Hwang Hae-rym, Stars and Stripes
Pacific edition, Sunday, March 8, 2009
PYEONGTAEK, South Korea – A U.S. soldier was in custody Friday after allegedly stabbing a female bartender near Osan Air Base in a fit of jealousy, authorities said.
The woman, 27, was reported in critical condition and on life support Friday with multiple knife wounds. Police said she’s from the Philippines and worked in the Shinjang Mall entertainment district just outside the base.
“I can say she is going through a very critical moment right now,” said surgeon Ahn Sang-ik, who operated on the woman at Osan Hankook Hospital. “It is too early to tell whether she will be OK.”
Two others – men who heard the woman’s screams and rushed to her aid – also were injured when trying to subdue the soldier.
Both remained hospitalized after surgery, but their injuries were not life-threatening, authorities said.
One was a South Korean air force captain, the other a civilian.
Part of the American soldier’s finger was cut off in the scuffle with the men, police said.
The incident occurred shortly after midnight Friday morning in the Songtan section of Pyeongtaek. Police would not disclose the name of the club.
The soldier had a romantic interest in the woman, but she was not interested in him, police said.
He became upset when he saw her drinking with another man at the bar, where he was a regular customer, police said. She was heading home from work when he allegedly attacked her, stabbing her repeatedly.
The woman suffered wounds to several internal organs, Ahn said, and one lung was severely injured and hemorrhaging.
The soldier was treated at the same hospital then turned over to the U.S. military.
The two men who tried to aid the woman were treated for injuries at Mediwell Hospital in Pyeongtaek.
The South Korean air force captain, 36, was treated for facial injuries. Authorities identified him by his last name Cho.
The other man, 27, was treated for leg injuries. Authorities said his last name was Lee.
“Everyone was injured either critically or seriously enough,” said a police official. “As for the Philippines woman, we should wait and see, hoping for the best.”
The Army’s 2nd Infantry Division issued a news release Friday, quoting division commander Maj. Gen. John W. Morgan III as saying the Army will work closely with the Korean authorities on the case.
The Army had not released the name of the accused soldier as of Friday evening.
At Osan Air Base, 51st Fighter Wing commander Col. Thomas H. Deale had not placed any bars off limits or changed curfew hours as a result of the incident, said wing spokeswoman 1st Lt. Malinda C. Singleton.
“However,” she said, “we are continuing to monitor the information as it comes in, and he will take the appropriate action as he deems necessary.”