Official: Statewide manhunt for East Garden City shooting suspect

A Nassau County Police flatbed tow-truck takes a

A Nassau County Police flatbed tow-truck takes a vehicle, driven by murder suspect Sang Ho Kim, from Route 9D in Cold Spring. (Sept. 26, 2013) Photo Credit: Xavier Mascarenas

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The hunt for the man who police believe killed one person and wounded another in a workplace shooting near the Roosevelt Field mall shifted upstate Thursday, while a law enforcement source said the alleged shooter felt cheated by the East Garden City company.

The Honda Pilot belonging to the alleged shooter, Sang Ho Kim, was spotted late Wednesday night by Putnam County sheriff deputies near Cold Spring, about 60 miles north of Manhattan, authorities said. Officers from more than a dozen agencies swarmed out across much of the western portion of the county, even as authorities said they have received tips that Kim may have left the area.

Police said Kim, 63, of Queens, entered Savenergy Inc. offices in East Garden City at about 10:10 a.m. Wednesday, then fatally shot a worker and critically wounded the owner of the energy-efficient lighting company.

The man killed was identified as Yong Jae Shin, 25, of Whitestone, Queens, by Central Funeral Home of New York in Flushing, which is handling the funeral arrangements.

The wounded man has been identified by friends and a law enforcement source as John Choi, of Woodmere, and the owner of Savenergy.

Detectives believe Kim felt he was "cheated out of a lot of money" by the company, a law enforcement source said.

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He blamed Choi for not giving him the money he thought he was due after they collaborated on projects, the source said: "He apparently thought he had been slighted and denied what was owed to him."

David Chulwoo Lee, president of the Korean-American Public Affairs Committee, said Choi's family told him the executive and Kim were involved in a dispute over sales commissions collected by Kim in his role selling products made by Savenergy.

"Whenever you sell the product, you should be honest . . . but this guy didn't do the right job so they had a problem," Lee said, referring to Kim.

Eventually, Choi confronted Kim about not following company guidelines as well as questions about the commissions he made on sales after word of Kim's actions made it to Choi's desk.

"I think that made him mad," Lee said of Kim. "John Choi is a very honorable man."

Kim's sister, reached by phone Wednesday night at home, said her brother and Choi had been "partners" on a deal and got into a dispute.

"He didn't pay my brother," said the sister, a Syosset resident who asked not to be publicly named. "My brother gave him a warning."

On Tuesday, Choi called Kim to arrange a meeting for that day, but when Kim got there, Choi was nowhere to be found, she said: "He went there and nobody's there. My brother got really, really mad."

Choi remained in critical condition Thursday at Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow, said Shelley Lotenberg, a hospital spokeswoman said. "He's conscious and alert," said Lotenberg. Lee said Choi had been shot in the head.

The shooting took place near the Roosevelt Field mall and the Meadowbrook State Parkway. The hunt and lockdown paralyzed one of Nassau's busiest shopping and business districts for hours.

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Law enforcement officials Thursday said it was not clear if Kim was dead or alive. His sister said Wednesday that he left a voice-mail message threatening suicide two hours after the shooting.

Twelve hours after the shooting, Kim's white sport utility vehicle was found at Little Stony Point, a park on the Hudson River north of the village, Putnam County Sheriff Donald B. Smith said.

Searchers combed through woods, railroad tracks and school campuses, a hunt that continued overnight.

"There are thousands of acres that we're now in the process of searching methodically," State Police Maj. Michael Kopy said late Thursday. "It's not going to happen overnight. It's going to take a period of time."

But Kopy added: "We are receiving tips that he's left the area."

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Residents of the village were urged to stay indoors during the intensive manhunt, which shut down schools and roads in the area. "We're telling people to be cautious," Smith said.

Kopy said they are dealing with rugged terrain, and that the suspect has some previous connection to the area. He did not disclose that connection.

Choi's family declined to comment.

With Tania Lopez, Gary Dymski, Fausto Giovanny Pinto and Chau Lam.

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