About 50 Koreans assaulted a U.S. Air Force sergeant in a provincial courtroom where he was on trial for the death of a Korean national, the U.S. military said today.
In a statement, Gen. Louis C. Menetrey expressed great concern over the "mob attack" on Tech. Sgt. Bruce D. Harayda that took place Tuesday at the Chonju District Court, 125 miles south of Seoul.
Harayda, 29, of Bridgeport, Conn., allegedly threw Chung Pan Yong, 53, over his shoulder the night of Feb. 10 during an argument that escalated into a street fight. The Korean died the next day of a brain hemorrhage, and Harayda was charged with manslaughter.
Harayda was on leave in Kunsan when the street brawl occurred.
The trial session was just beginning when about 50 "student-aged" Koreans and family members of Chung inside the courtroom began shouting anti-American slogans and calling for Harayda's immediate imprisonment, the military statement said.
"After the chief judge declared a recess, one protester ran forward and began assaulting Harayda," it said. "When a court guard attempted to keep the protester from attacking the soldier, others rushed Harayda and began beating him."
Harayda managed to get his Korean wife and 10-month-old baby outside to a U.S. military van. Protesters pounded on the vehicle, breaking the window glass. The family was trapped inside the van for about 40 minutes before Korean police ended the violence, the report said.