Osan bar stabbing victim now conscious
By Franklin Fisher and Hwang Hae-rym, Stars and Stripes
Pacific edition, Wednesday, March 11, 2009
PYEONGTAEK, South Korea – The bar worker stabbed multiple time Friday allegedly by a jealous U.S. soldier remained on life support Monday but had regained consciousness, authorities said.
Two men who were injured when they rushed to her aid also remained hospitalized Monday, one with leg wounds, the other with facial injuries.
The incident occurred after midnight on Friday morning in the Shinjang Mall bar and entertainment district just outside Osan Air Base in the Songtan section of Pyeongtaek.
The soldier is being held at the Eighth U.S. Army Confinement Facility at Camp Humphreys, the Army said Monday. Part of his finger was cut off during the incident, police said.
No charges had been filed as of Monday, said 2nd Infantry Division spokesman Maj. Vincent Mitchell. The soldier is a 37-year-old specialist assigned as a supply clerk with 3rd Battalion, 2nd Aviation Regiment General Support Aviation Battalion, part of
the division’s 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade, Mitchell said.
Police said the soldier harbored a romantic interest in the woman but that she was not interested in him.
He allegedly became jealous after seeing her drinking with another man in a club where the soldier was a frequent customer, police said.
When she left to go home, he allegedly attacked her, stabbing her repeatedly, according to police.
Two men who heard her screams rushed over and were injured in an ensuing scuffle, police said.
The woman, 27, from the Philippines, suffered multiple knife wounds that injured several internal organs, including a lung, authorities said.
A surgeon who operated on the woman had said Friday that it was uncertain whether she would survive. But on Monday, authorities said she was not only conscious but her condition had stabilized somewhat.
Police said Monday that it could be at least 20 days before she’ll be in condition for them to question her.
“Her treatment takes priority over the investigation,” a police official said.
They plan to question the soldier later this week, police said.
Mitchell said it has yet to be determined whether South Korean authorities will choose to prosecute the soldier or allow the U.S. military to handle the case.
One of the men who ran to help her said Monday that the soldier stabbed him three times in his left leg. Lee Taek-woon, 27, a Brazilian citizen of Korean ethnicity, is receiving treatment at Mediwell Hospital in Pyeongtaek.
He said he also suffered nerve damage. His wounds required numerous stitches, his leg is in a cast, and he’ll need about two months of medical treatment, he said in an interview Monday with Stars and Stripes.
The other man who went to the woman’s aid, South Korean air force Capt. Cho Jae-hwi, suffered facial injuries. He was transported from Mediwell Hospital to a hospital in Seoul for further treatment.
Lee said he, Cho and other friends had dined at a restaurant in the Shinjang Mall and were outside smoking cigarettes when they heard screaming.
About 30 to 40 yards away they saw what appeared to be a man beating a woman with his fists, Lee said.
“We dashed over to help the woman,” said Lee, who said he works as a part-time bartender in a Shinjang Mall club that caters to U.S. servicemembers. “All I had in mind was to try to subdue him so that he couldn’t attack her any longer. But I had no idea he had a knife.”
Lee and Cho say they struggled with the soldier and held him to the ground.
“I still didn’t know that I was stabbed with the knife,” said Lee. “I didn’t feel the pain at that moment.”
Meanwhile, said Lee, two Korean passers-by asked others to call for police and an ambulance.
“And then I lost consciousness due to too much bleeding,” Lee said.
He said he doesn’t take an unfavorable view of all U.S. servicemembers.
“They are usually friendly,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed good chats with them.”