A shooting spree by a South Korean reservist left three people dead and two others injured.
The reserve soldier killed one and wounded three others before killing himself in a shooting rampage at a military training camp in Seoul on Wednesday morning, the Defense Ministry said.
One of the wounded victims died in a hospital at around 9:30 p.m., YTN news reported.
The man fired seven shots with his rifle at around 10:44 a.m. during a shooting drill at the 52nd division under Army Capital Defense Command, located in Seocho-gu, southern Seoul. The 23-year-old gunman was only identified with his surname Choi, according to reports.
The man fired a K-2 rifle toward other reservists who were calibrating their rifles for “zeroing training,” a process of adjusting a rifle sight. He shot once at the target and suddenly turned around and started shooting at others, Army officials said.
A military ambulance leaves a training camp in Naegok-dong, southern Seoul, where a reservist went on a shooting spree, killing one and wounding three, before turning the gun on himself, Wednesday. (Yonhap)
The wounded were transported to a military hospital in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province, and other civilian hospitals near the site. But one died during medical treatment and another was reportedly in a critical condition. The remaining two are said to be stable, according to reports in the afternoon.
Defense Minister Han Min-koo apologized to the victims and vowed to conduct a thorough investigation into the incident. Follow-up measures to prevent such incidents would be also taken, he said.
“The military will do its utmost to make sure such incidents do not happen again,” the minister was quoted by his spokesperson Kim Min-seok. “(The minister) extended his sincere condolence to those who lost their lives. He wished those injured a speedy recovery,” Kim added. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Kim Yo-hwan, who was visiting the Philippines, canceled the trip and returned home to lead the investigation, officials said.
The cause of the incident still remains unclear.
But initial reports showed that the gunman was one of soldiers “requiring special attention.” He was rated as class-B with A being the worst. During his service, Choi was sent from one unit to another as he failed to adapt to military life. He also had a medical record of depression, reports added.
The military said all victims are reservists. Some 600 reservists were participating in the shooting practice as part of a three-day training session that started on Tuesday. Among the reservists was South Korean singer Psy, who left the site 20 minutes before the incident, reports said.
At the incident site, nine active-duty soldiers ― three captains and six enlisted ― were positioned to ensure the safety of 20 firing lines, said the Army. The military, however, refrained from saying whether all the reservists had followed safety rules during the drill.
Every eligible South Korean man aged between 18 and 35 is obliged to serve more than two years in the military. After completing their military duty, they are required to serve in the reserve forces for eight more years.
The incident came less than a year after a shooting rampage in a frontline unit. A sergeant went on a shooting rampage in his unit near the eastern inter-Korean border, killing five soldiers and wounding seven.
The 22-year-old sergeant, who is identified only by his surname Lim, ran away with a K-2 rifle and some 60 bullets after the shooting in the unit of the 22nd Army Division in Goseong, Gangwon Province.
By Yeo Jun-suk (firstname.lastname@example.org)