Family: Suspected cop killer was troubled by drugs

AP News
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Posted: Oct 29, 2010 10:08 PM
Family: Suspected cop killer was troubled by drugs

A man suspected of killing a San Diego police officer hoped to climb the ranks of the Coast Guard but turned to drugs and crime after leaving the service to be closer to home, his family said Friday.

Police have not released the identities of a man and woman who were found dead Thursday, hours after gunfire was exchanged with officers serving an arrest warrant at the apartment. However, the family of 30-year-old Holim Lee says police have told them that Lee's body was found in a bedroom littered with guns.

Hojin Lee said his older brother loved the discipline of the Coast Guard but left the service in 2005 to return home to San Diego, where he was raised. His Coast Guard assignments frequently took him to Alaska.

"It was very difficult to live as a civilian after enjoying the Coast Guard so much, enjoying the military so much," said Hojin Lee.

Holim Lee began using drugs _ his brother believes it methamphetamines _ after struggling to find steady work.

"No matter what kind of person you are, drugs just change you, make you do things you normally wouldn't do," Hojin Lee, 27, said while smoking a cigarette on the front porch of his family home.

A funeral was scheduled Thursday for Officer Christopher Wilson, who was shot at Lee's apartment when police and U.S. marshals went to serve an arrest warrant.

Police found the dead man and woman in the apartment after an eight-hour standoff.

San Diego police Capt. Jim Collins said Thursday that the man found in the apartment may have killed Wilson but that investigators were looking at other possibilities. Lt. Andra Brown said Friday that no conclusions had been reached.

Wilson, 50, had two children and was a 17-year veteran of the city police force who was known for teaching rookies to be respectful of others and for his care for the homeless who wandered his district.

"We are horrified by the circumstances," the Lee family said in a statement. "We are also mourning and we are so sorry this happened."

Hyon and Jumok Lee moved to San Diego after emigrating from Seoul, South Korea, hoping to provide a better life for their two young boys. Hojin said his parents run a small business and each has second jobs.

The San Diego Fire-Rescue Department bestowed a certificate of valor on Holim Lee in 2001 for rescuing an elderly couple from a burning building.

Lee joined the Coast Guard in February 2002, and held the rank of seaman, said Coast Guard Lt. Sean Groark. Lee received a general discharge in December 2005, and was a storekeeper, which involves handling supplies, procurement and inventory.

After leaving the Coast Guard, he took classes to improve his grades for college admission, his brother said.

Police went to the apartment with two warrants for Lee's arrest, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune. Issued July 30, one warrant accused him of assault with a deadly weapon. They also had an Oct. 19 warrant for violating terms of his parole in an armed robbery case.

Fellow officers carried Wilson down the stairs from the second-story apartment after he was shot.

After a SWAT team tossed a nondestructive grenade to make a loud noise and flash of light inside the apartment, a man and woman inside notified police that they wanted to come out. The man and woman, who also have not been identified, were detained for questioning.

Lee was placed on three years' probation in September 2007 after pleading guilty to robbery of an inhabited dwelling, according to the Union-Tribune.

His lawyer told the Union-Tribune that Lee played a minor role in the robbery and in a plea agreement, charges of burglary and tampering with a phone line or cable line were dropped. Relatives and ministers from two churches wrote letters urging leniency and he was sentenced to a year in county jail and probation.

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Associated Press writer Sue Manning in Los Angeles contributed to this report.