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Buena Park bank hostage suspect had vendetta against manager

March 2, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
The man behind a SWAT standoff at a Buena Park bank had a personal grudge against the bank manager who he held hostage.

The incident unfolded Thursday when a robbery was reported at the Saehan Bank in the area of Beach Boulevard and Rosecrans Avenue at about 11 a.m.

According to Buena Park police, 55-year-old Myung Jae Kim walked into the bank armed with a loaded shotgun and multiple pipe bombs. Authorities say he had one bomb on his body and another one in a box.

About five minutes after Kim entered the bank, an employee asked if all the workers could leave the bank. Kim complied, allowing everyone to leave except the bank manager, identified as Michelle Kwon. Police say there were seven employees in the bank at the time including Kwon, and six were released.

Authorities say Kim went to the bank specifically looking for Kwon because he was upset over a personal issue. Kwon had previously worked at another bank, at which Kim was a customer. He felt he was wronged by that bank, and that's why he tracked her down at Saehan.

Police say Kim demanded $250,000 and threatened to kill himself and Kwon if he didn't get the cash.

After a tense four-hour standoff, the SWAT team stormed the bank and safely rescued Kwon unharmed. It was during this dramatic rescue when Kim was shot.

He was pulled out on a stretcher and transported to an area hospital for treatment. After Kim was taken away, a bomb squad cleared the scene and deemed the pipe devices as not dangerous.

Three SWAT officers were also injured during the incident. They suffered superficial gunshot wounds and were treated and released from the hospital Thursday night. They're expected to be OK, but two of the officers still have bullet fragments that need to be removed from their extremities.

Friday, Kim was listed in critical condition and was expected to remain at the UCI Medical Center intensive-care unit through the weekend. He had earlier been listed in grave condition.

Bank officials say Kwon had only been working for Saehan for six months. Since Kim came looking for Kwon over a personal vendetta, they don't view the incident as a bank robbery. However, police are conducting further investigations, focusing on the incident as an attempted bank robbery.

Residents in the quiet community are still shaken by Thursday's gunfire, but seemed to feel a little better knowing that it wasn't a random bank robbery.

"Yeah, I feel sorry because it's something personal and he had to take that extreme action. I thought it was very tragic," said area resident Sung Kunkel.

Records show that Kim owns a business in Garden Grove called Kim's Water Control, a residential water treatment business.

Meantime, security has been amped up at Saehan Bank. Two bank security guards stood in front of the bank Friday morning in front of a busted glass door that shattered during the incident.

The bank was expected to remain closed and was scheduled to reopen Monday.


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