By Lee Tae-hoon
A Marine Corps corporal who went on a shooting spree early this week claimed that he instructed an alleged conspirator to destroy a sentry post with a grenade, a military official said Wednesday.
The corporal, identified only as Kim, took the lives of four colleagues and wounded one in the deadly rampage Monday.
“Corporal Kim testified that he instructed a private named Jeong to destroy a watchtower near his barracks with a grenade that he gave him as he loaded a K-2 rifle,”the official said, asking for anonymity.
The Marine Corps arrested the alleged collaborator immediately after obtaining Kim’s testimony about him.
The military has been investigating how he managed to steal a K-2 rifle, a grenade and ammunition while being off duty, and whether there was a conspirator.
Kim Young-soo, a senior investigator in the case, said the shooter alledged that he and Jeong decided to commit the crime and flee from their island based unit in the hope that their action would help put an end to violence in the military.
“The shooter repeatedly claimed that he collaborated with Jeong to steal the rifle and ammunition during questioning,”he said.
The investigator noted that both Corporal Kim and Jeong were on a list of “maladjusted” conscripts and classified as soldiers who needed special attention. The two reportedly shared the view that physical abuse must be stopped in military barracks.
Jeong is suspected of failing to stop Kim from taking ammunition out of a locker to load the rifle. Jeong, however, flatly denied his involvement.
“Private Jeong claims that he did not take part in the shooting at all and that he was in a telephone booth during the time of the incident,” the investigator said.
“We have yet to conclude whether Jeong had planned the shooting with Kim prior to the event, or whether the private was aware of the plan beforehand.”
Corporal Kim opened fire inside the barracks of the Ganghwa Island unit in the West Sea on Monday.
Kim himself was injured after he detonated a hand grenade inside a warehouse in an apparent suicide attempt. He was arrested shortly after.
Kim claimed that he had been ostracized by both his superiors and juniors.
A report that Rep. Shin Hak-yong of the Democratic Party obtained states that Kim suffered from personality disorders and showed signs of schizophrenia before joining the unit last September.
해병대 총기사건을 공모한 혐의를 받고 있는 정 모 이병이 당시 사고자인 김 모 상병으로부터 넘겨받은 수류탄으로 고가초소를 폭파하려 했던 것으로 드러났다고 국방부 관계자가 6일 밝혔다.
이 관계자는 "김 상병이 자신이 K-2 실탄을 장전할 때 정 이병에게 수류탄을 건네며 생활관 옆 고가초소를 폭파하도록 지시했다고 진술했다"고 말했다.
해병대는 6일 새벽 총기사건을 일으킨 김모 상병과 공모한 혐의로 정모 이병을 긴급 체포했다.
국방부조사본부 김영수 수사2과장은 김 상병이 정 이병과 함께 총기와 탄약을 절취했다고 진술하고 있어 가담여부를 조사하고 있다고 전했다.
김 상병은 평소 가까이 지내오던 정 이병과 함께 사고를 치고 탈영하자고 제안했던 것으로 알려져 있다.
김 과장은 "사고자인 김 상병과 범행을 공모한 혐의로 정 이병을 새벽 1시께 긴급 체포했다"면서 “자세한 혐의를 조사하고 있다"고 밝혔다.
하지만 그는 김 상병과 정 이병이 "우리가 구타를 없애 버리자"는 생각을 가졌던 것은 맞으나 정 이병이 실제 범행에 가담했는지는 아직 드러나지 않고 있다고 주장했다.
정모 이병 역시 부대생활에 잘 적응하지 못하는 관심사병이었던 것으로 알려져 있다.