The hunt for a man who allegedly walked into a Long Island light fixture company and shot two business associates, killing one, has shifted upstate after his car was found abandoned in Putnam County overnight.
Authorities said the white Honda SUV that the suspect was driving after the shooting Wednesday in East Garden City was found in Cold Spring. Schools near where the car was found were closed or had delayed openings Thursday as law enforcement scoured the area for the alleged suspect, identified as Sang Ho Kim, 64.
Residents in the bucolic town on the bank of the Hudson River were urged to lock their doors and avoid leaving keys in their cars.
"We're working to keep the public safe," said Putnam County Sheriff Donald Smith. "We don't want to be alarmists but we have a fugitive on the loose. Someone that committed a homicide potentially still in this area."
Amanda Playford, who was born and raised in the quiet town, said the manhunt was terrifying.
"It's heartbreaking, it's scary just knowing this guy drove by my house," she said. "I'm trying to stay indoors as much as I can."
Checkpoints were set up on Main Street, where police searched every car that passed through.
Officials believe the suspect could also be traveling on mass transit. The FBI and U.S. Marshals are working with local law enforcement to find him.
Nassau County Police Chief Steven Skyrnecki said that the shooting appears to have stemmed over a bad business deal with someone at the office.
A law enforcement source identified the surviving victim as 68-year-old John Choi, the founder of Savenergy. A hospital spokeswoman said Thursday he's in critical but stable condition at Nassau University Medical Center.
Family friend David Lee told NBC 4 New York Choi was shot in the forehead, execution-style. His condition is improving, according to Lee.
"He's such a great man. He's a man of honor, he's a man of integrity," Lee said of Choi, who also founded the civic group Korean American Public Affairs Committee.
Kim had worked as a SavEnergy vendor for several years after reportedly meeting Choi at a Flushing, Queens church. The church's former pastor said that in recent days, Kim's business dealings had gone sour, and so had his demeanor.
"He's been rigid and he's not so friendly to others," said Sukho Moon.
Lee said Choi's family is now living in fear of the alleged gunman.
Kim, of Queens, has a record of arrests dating back to 1997, when he faced a charge of driving as an unlicensed operator in Westchester.
In 1998, he was arrested in Queens on a DWI charge and was arrested on the same charge in Manhattan's Riverbank State Park in 2006. In 2008, he was arrested for trademark counterfeiting in New Jersey.