A Walnut liquor store owner who was pushed out of his sport utility vehicle at Ontario International Airport by a carjacker became entangled in his seat belt and was dragged for more than two miles to his death, authorities said.
More than 40 people watched helplessly as Seok Young Rhee, 55, struggled to cling to the side of his Chevrolet Suburban as the carjacker sped down Airport Drive on Monday evening, authorities said.
Witnesses shouted and screamed at the driver to stop. Some motorists attempted to chase the Suburban, only to see it collide with other vehicles just outside the airport, police said.
Police arrested Jose Luis Chichipa, 40, of Mira Loma and booked him on suspicion of murder and carjacking. He was being held at the West Valley Detention Center without bail.
Authorities said Chichipa told them he was enraged over problems he experienced at the airport, including loss of his luggage and a parking ticket. Police said they suspect he was under the influence of drugs. Police also said Chichipa was wanted in connection with a drug offense.
"In my nine years here, I can't recall anything like this," Ontario Police Cpl. David McBride said. "How terrible a way to die...." Family and friends gathered Tuesday at Rhee's home. One friend said Rhee was returning home after driving his daughter, a UC Berkeley student, to the airport. He said Rhee operated Cavalier Liquors in Pomona with his wife. The couple also have a son in medical school in Northern California.
"When you run a market, you worry about getting held up," said the friend, who asked to remain anonymous. But "in Mr. Rhee's case, this happened at the airport. It's incredible."
Police said Chichipa arrived curbside at the airport at about 5:40 p.m. to collect luggage that was lost days earlier. Chichipa complained to airline officials that the delay was keeping him from visiting his gravely ill father, police said.
Chichipa collected his luggage and talked a security guard into watching it at the curb while he went to get his Ford Probe, but then had trouble finding the vehicle, authorities said.
He became further irritated at the exit gate when he found he owed $13 in parking fees, Ontario police Det. Al Parra said.
Chichipa told police that he returned to the airline office to get a parking validation but lost the parking slip by the time he got back to the attendant.
Chichipa then allegedly argued with the parking attendant, and tussled with a security guard who was attracted by the commotion. Chichipa dashed back to his car, crashed through the parking gate and sped to the intersection of Airport and Rental drives, police said.
He then abandoned his car and yanked open the door of Rhee's truck, which was also stopped at a traffic light, Parra said. Chichipa grabbed Rhee, pulled him from the driver's seat and began pummeling him with his fists before seizing the wheel and stomping on the gas, authorities said.
As Chichipa began to pull away, witnesses said they saw that Rhee was entangled in the shoulder strap. Witnesses told police that Rhee attempted to stay on his feet and grasp at the vehicle's roof rails but slipped under the truck and was dragged down Airport Drive.
"We hope and pray that's where Mr. Rhee received his fatal injuries," Parra said.
Police said Chichipa crashed the Suburban into two cars near the end of the runway and commandeered another vehicle.
He crashed that vehicle a few moments later and was wrestled to the ground by an off-duty officer and others, authorities said.
Times staff writer K. Connie Kang contributed to this report.