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Gun-range stabbing suspect planned robbery

Police said Sunday that the man they had apprehended on suspicion of stabbing the owner of an indoor shooting range and running away with a handgun and bullets in Busan, committed the crime as part of a plot to rob a local post office.

The 29-year-old man, identified only by his surname Hong, was arrested on Saturday, four hours after he stabbed the range’s owner, who attempted to stop him from stealing a handgun and 19 bullets, according to the police.

(Yonhap)
(Yonhap)

After his arrest, the suspect initially stated that he had stolen the gun and bullets to kill himself, but admitted later that he had intended to use them for a robbery as he faced financial difficulties.

Hong allegedly needed to secure some 30 million won ($25,000) to invest in opening a restaurant with his friend.

According to the police, Hong had planned the crime in advance, stealing a kitchen knife from a local market and researching the indoor shooting range online.

The suspect said during police questioning that he had attempted to steal a handgun and bullets at the range on Thursday, but gave up as two male staff were at the scene.

On Saturday morning he committed the crime when only the female owner was at the range, with the other male staff member on duty having left to go to the supermarket.

Hong received 50 bullets from the store, of which he fired 20 at the range. He then fled with the 45-caliber handgun and 19 bullets after stabbing the owner.

The 46-year-old woman was taken to hospital, but is not in a life-threatening condition.

Police immediately mobilized all officers in the region and asked the public for help to track him down by releasing CCTV footage of the suspect through media.

Investigators acquired his fingerprints from a daily business log at the range, which enabled them to locate the suspect by detecting a signal from his mobile phone.

Hong purportedly changed his clothes in the building next to the range and took taxis twice to flee until he was forced out of the taxi and captured by the police at 1:40 p.m. the same day.

The police recovered the handgun and 19 bullets on the spot.

The incident has unleashed a fresh debate over lax gun regulations at indoor ranges across the nation.

During the news briefing on Sunday, a chief of the Busanjin Police Station noted that anyone could access the guns at the range without a key.

The relevant law requires indoor ranges to have at least three staff members onsite for safety, but there are no rules allowing punishment of those who break the law.

The customers’ identities are not properly checked at most of the ranges, with Hong’s personal information on the business log turning out to be fake.
“The loose management at the indoor range caused a casualty, but it will not likely face penalties for its wrongdoing,” a police source said, citing a lack of ordinances on gun control at indoor ranges. 

By Ock Hyun-ju (laeticia.ock@heraldcorp.com)
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