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Friends: Wounded man passionate, community minded

One person was dead and another in surgery Wednesday afternoon after a man identified as a vendor opened fire earlier in an East Garden City lighting company. Police are seeking Sang Ho Kim, 63. Videojournalists: Jim Staubitser and Chuck Fadely (Sept. 25, 2013)

Friends and colleagues said the executive wounded in an East Garden City workplace shooting that left another man dead Wednesday was an honest businessman, passionate about his energy company and advancing the role of Korean-Americans in the community.

Police Wednesday night had not identified either victim in the midmorning shooting inside Savenergy Inc. but people who knew the wounded man identified him as John Choi, 68, the chief executive of the company with deep community ties.

Nassau police spent Wednesday and Wednesday night searching for Sang Ho Kim, 63, who they said entered the building Choi owns and opened fire.

Choi's friend, David Chulwoo Lee, called it a miracle that Choi survived the shooting.

Lee, president of the Korean-American Public Affairs Committee, or KAPAC, said when he heard about the shooting from news reports, he thought it could have involved his friend. His fears were confirmed when County Executive Edward Mangano called to break the news to him.

"He's a very honest man, very religious man," said Lee, who visited Choi Wednesday night at Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow.

Lee said Choi was still sedated and recovering from surgery. He said family members told him Choi will likely pull through despite being shot once in the head.

"It's a miracle," said Lee. "God saved him."

Lee said he met with Choi's wife and daughter who were at his bedside.

Another friend of Choi, Daniel Kim, said news of the shooting hit him hard.

"My heart is broken," he said after parking near the scene of the shootings. "It's like a dagger. This man who did this, he could have sat down and reasoned with John. He did not have to kill anyone."

Kim said that in addition to being active in KAPAC, Choi is also a police booster. "He does so much for the community. He is beloved."

According to its website, Savenergy Inc. manufactures and installs exclusive patented energy saving devices. In February, LIPA recognized the company at its Annual Trade Ally Recognition Breakfast as a Rising Star. A LIPA spokesman confirmed that the company has participated in some of its commercial efficiency programs. The company lists itself as being headquartered in Inwood and that it also conducts business within the United States and overseas.

Lee said Choi is also very passionate about conservation and ways of delivering energy in the future.

The two met through a mutual friend nearly a decade ago. It was through their exchange of ideas on how to advance Korean-Americans in the community that they formed KAPAC.

Mangano, who attended the police news conference shortly after the shootings, issued a statement later through a spokesman. "My thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and families as one mourns the loss of a loved one and the other prays for a speedy recovery."

With Kevin Deutsch

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