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Search for shooting suspect shifts to NYC

Nassau County police said they are searching for

Nassau County police said they are searching for Sang Ho Kim, seen in an undated photo and identified as a former employee of Savenergy Inc. in Garden City, where two people were shot, one fatally. The Nassau Police BSO unit conducts a search near Roosevelt Field where a suspect involved in a shooting in Garden City was last seen. (Sept. 25, 2013) Credit: NCPD; Howard Schnapp

Authorities searching for a suspected Long Island gunman combed thousands of rugged acres in Putman County by land, air and water again Friday, then announced the focus of the manhunt was shifting to New York City.

The upstate pursuit of slaying suspect Sang Ho Kim was sharply scaled back in late afternoon after two days of intensive searching aided by more than a dozen law enforcement agencies.

"We haven't found a trace of him," Putnam County Sheriff Donald Smith said.

Smith said the manhunt -- with heavily armed officers in boats, all-terrain vehicles and helicopters -- proved futile, even though at one point police dogs appeared to catch the suspect's scent.

The search centered in the Cold Spring village area, about 60 miles north of Manhattan, where Kim's sport utility vehicle had been found.

Police said Kim, 63, killed one man and wounded another Wednesday morning when he opened fire at Savenergy Inc., an energy-efficiency lighting business in East Garden City.

Kim, a Savenergy vendor, believed he had been cheated by the company, according to a law enforcement source.

Nassau police Chief Steve Skrynecki said the hunt for Kim, who is from Queens, will continue with help from the NYPD.

"A lot of his background takes us into New York City," he said.

Police Friday released the identity of the slaying victim: Zachariah Yong Jae Shin, 25, of Whitestone, Queens. Shin was an office worker, his family said.

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

Choi remained in critical but stable condition Friday at Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow, a hospital spokeswoman said.

The workplace shooting paralyzed one of Nassau's busiest shopping and commercial districts for hours, prompting a number of lockdowns in the area, including upscale Roosevelt Field mall and public schools.

Authorities descended on Cold Spring after Kim's Honda Pilot was discovered late that night at Little Stony Park on the Hudson River north of the village.

Smith said the manhunt was "no small task," involving forest rangers, MTA railroad police, FBI agents, state troopers and many others.

The search included helicopter drops of police in areas inaccessible by foot. Police boats from four counties, including one that can scan waters for people, scoured the river, the sheriff said.

"That park consists of 7,400 acres of some of the most rugged terrain, not only in Putnam County but in New York State," Smith said. "We have done the best we can, but we still have not found Mr. Kim . . . There's very little we can do now."

Smith said beefed-up security for the area will remain in effect, with additional officers assigned to public events.

Skrynecki, meanwhile, vowed to keep looking for the gunman. "The investigation will not end until he's found."

Detectives believe Kim targeted Choi over a financial dispute and had no grievance with Shin.

While Kim's sister has said he was owed money, a friend of Choi's family has doubted that, calling the businessman "very honorable."

On Friday, Shin's family spoke out at their Whitestone home to dispel reports that he had also been targeted by the gunman.

In the past two weeks, the Shin family said they paid Kim the agreed-upon $5,000 to renovate the bathroom and floors, and paint their home.

"We don't believe that my brother was the target," said Dana Shin, 23, the victim's sister.

The family said two Savenergy employees visited them earlier in the day to recount what happened the morning of the shooting.

The employees said Shin and Choi were talking about a past project when Kim entered the office and an argument started.

Silence followed, then they saw Kim leave with a silver handgun, the family said. The employees told the Shins they never heard gunshots, but when they entered the office they saw the victims on the floor, bleeding.

Shin said her brother had taken a semester off from dentistry studies at Syracuse University to earn some money. He had a passion for tennis, getting up at 5 a.m. every day to play, she said.

She said he routinely picked her up after work and took her home.

"He was a loving brother . . . He was a lovely boy; a ray of sunshine who always helped people," she said.

With Fausto Giovanny Pinto, Maria Alvarez, Chau Lam

and John Valenti

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