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Shots at U.N. narrowly miss employees

Suspect had firearms permit

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Steve Kim is arrested by a security guard in front of the United Nations.

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CNN Exclusive video: CNN's Richard Roth describes how a gunman fired shots in front of the United Nations then was apprehended by security (October 3)
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UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- A gunman apparently protesting the state of human rights in North Korea climbed over an unpatrolled fence at U.N. headquarters Thursday afternoon and fired seven shots at the building with a revolver, narrowly missing several employees, the U.N.'s security chief said.

The man, identified as Steve Kim, then threw down a .357-caliber Magnum, walked over to a bag he had brought, reached inside and tossed a handful of handwritten fliers into the air that contained a "rambling political message" about human rights in North Korea, said chief Michael McCann.

Kim then leaned against a flagpole, calmly watching as security agents approached and handcuffed him. He did not resist.

The fliers were addressed "to all people who love freedom and justice" and complained about the plight of North Koreans. They were written in English and signed by "Steve Kim, citizen of the U.N."

The U.N. Security Council was meeting inside at the time. No evacuation or other steps were taken, said U.N. spokeswoman Hua Jiang.

Kim was taken into custody by members of a protective detail that was preparing for the departure of the motorcade of a visiting dignitary.

The detail included members of the Secret Service, the State Department's protection service and the New York Police Department. U.N. security personnel also responded, McCann said.

Kim was turned over to the FBI and will be arraigned in federal court Friday morning, said Mike Kulstad, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office.

McCann said at least two of the shots struck windows on the 18th and 20th floors of the landmark building in Manhattan along the East River.

No one was injured, but McCann said that in the aftermath some U.N. staff members received medical treatment for complaints not directly related to the shooting.

U.N. detectives removed several bullet slugs from the building for testing, including one that had been taken from the ceiling just above the cubicle of a worker who was out sick Thursday. Another bullet remained lodged in the exterior wall of the building on the 20th floor.

Kim is a naturalized U.S. citizen from Des Plaines, Illinois, said FBI spokesman Jim Margolin. He may be from North Korea, although that has not been confirmed, Margolin said.

Kim is a common Korean surname. McCann said Kim was born in 1945, which would make him 56 or 57.

In Illinois, Kim's 24-year-old son, Michael, said he was "shocked" when he saw the coverage of his father's arrest. He said his father never expressed political opinions about North Korea and to his knowledge did not own a firearm.

U.N. police take the suspected shooter into custody.
U.N. police take the suspected shooter into custody.

"He's very kind, patient. He's just a normal person," Michael Kim said.

Michael Kim said he and his father went to U.N. headquarters during a trip to New York two weeks ago. He said they looked at the outside of the building but did not go inside.

When apprehended Steve Kim had in his possession a business card from a postal processing center in Palatine, Illinois. He also had an Illinois firearms permit, though it was not clear whether it was for the weapon used at the United Nations.

A Postal Service official told The Associated Press that Kim has been an employee since 1988. (Full story)

CNN Senior U.N. Correspondent Richard Roth, who watched the shooting from a fourth floor window, said he heard a succession of shots "one at a time, pop, pop, pop, pop, straight up in the air." The man was standing beside an empty fountain pool, Roth said.

McCann said Kim apparently climbed over a 5-foot high perimeter fence at the U.N. compound. No security officer was positioned in the area at the time, he said.

The shooting raised questions about security at U.N. headquarters.

McCann said the fence had been identified as a possible weakness. He said U.N. officials have developed a "master plan" for upgrading security that calls for it to be replaced or the perimeter reinforced with a second fence. Closed-circuit TV cameras will also be installed, said.

In addition, after the September 11 attacks, U.N. officials authorized hiring 36 additional security officers to strengthen patrols, McCann said. So far, "we have filled a small number of those positions," but another recruitment drive is planned, he said.

Armed U.N. security personnel operate under a protocol that "stresses minimal use of force," but it does allow officers to use their weapons to protect U.N. personnel and visitors, McCann said.

The United Nations has a $26 million budget for post-September 11 security improvements, according to U.N. officials. Metal detectors and the public address system have been upgraded, and bomb-sniffing dogs have been posted at garages.

CNN Correspondent Richard Roth and Producer Laura Dolan contributed to this report.



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