An upstate New York community is on edge after a car driven by a suspect in a deadly Long Island office shooting was found abandoned in the area, and the search shifted to Putnam County.
The search for Sang Ho Kim moved from Nassau County to Cold Spring Thursday after the white Honda SUV the suspect was driving was discovered near Sandy Beach overnight. More than 100 officers from local and federal law enforcement agencies have been scouring the area for the 64-year-old suspect.
"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."
Residents in the town on the bank of the Hudson River were urged to lock their doors and avoid leaving keys in their cars.
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.
Police noted that even extensive searches in the heavily wooded, parkland-filled area may not net any immediate results.
"There have been times in the past where people have been missing in the park, and long searches -- 11-day searches -- have been conducted, and they have literally been found months later by people who weren't even looking for them," said Smith.
The police warnings were enough to persuade visitors to the popular Hudson Valley village to cautiously change their itineraries.
"We saw this castle at the top of this hill and we thought it would be fun to hike up it," said Karen Callahan. "But I don't think we're going to do that now."
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.
Police Friday identified the victim who died as 25-year-old Zachariah Yong Jae Shin of Whitestone. Queens. Friends were still in mourning.
"He was smart, really friendly," said John Kim.
Savenergy’s founder, 68-year-old John Choi, was the shooting’s surviving victim, according to family friend David Lee. A hospital spokeswoman said Thursday he's in critical but stable condition at Nassau University Medical Center.
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.