A bus makes its way through Suwon, South Korea, in February 2019.

A bus makes its way through Suwon, South Korea, in February 2019. (Wikimedia Commons)

CAMP HUMPHREYS, South Korea — An American soldier suspected of assaulting a South Korean bus driver was arrested over the weekend by police in Suwon city, according to a police official.

Police allege that a junior enlisted soldier stationed at Camp Humphreys boarded a tourist bus around 6:40 a.m. Sunday and “made a commotion” by yelling, a spokesman for the Suwon Seobu police station told Stars and Stripes by phone Monday.

South Korean law enforcement officials customarily speak to the media on the condition of anonymity and do not publicly identify criminal suspects until trial. Suwon is roughly 20 miles north of Camp Humphreys, the largest U.S. military base overseas.

The bus driver was pushed to the ground while attempting to restrain the soldier, the spokesman said. The driver notified police, who apprehended the soldier at a convenience store about 330 yards from the bus.

The bus driver and police officers at the scene said they smelled alcohol on the soldier’s breath, the spokesman said. Police will review security camera footage from the bus and plan to interview the soldier at a later date.

U.S. Forces Korea military police took custody of the soldier shortly after his arrest. USFK typically maintains custody of its personnel unless they are accused by South Korean authorities of more serious crimes like rape and homicide, according to its regulations on criminal jurisdiction.

An Eighth Army spokesman declined to provide additional information about the incident until the command’s investigation is complete.

“As always, the service member has the right to be considered innocent until proven otherwise,” Army Lt. Col. Neil Penttila said in an email Tuesday.

Penttila said the command “will continue to cooperate fully with our partners in the Korean National Police to determine the facts related to the alleged incident.”

David Choi is based in South Korea and reports on the U.S. military and foreign policy. He served in the U.S. Army and California Army National Guard. He graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles.

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