The night manager of an East 33rd Street convenience store was shot and killed early yesterday when he apparently tried to fight off gunmen who were attempting to rob him, the Baltimore police said.
Hae Gak Chung, 51, of the 300 block of Limestone Valley Drive, Cockeysville, was shot in the right arm and the chest. The police found him dead behind the counter when they arrived about 3 a.m. at the 7-Eleven store in the 400 block of East 33rd Street.
The police said they are seeking three men seen in the store just before the shooting.
Although Baltimore has seen a rise in commercial and convenience store robberies during the first quarter of the year, this is the first in which someone has been slain.
The slaying of Mr. Chung is the city's 98th homicide this year -- 11 more than for the same period last year. He is the 12th person to be killed in the city in the past seven days.
According to the police, Mr. Chung was working behind the two cash registers at the front of the store when he asked a 17-year-old employee to go to a back room and bag ice.
Agent Arlene K. Jenkins, a police spokeswoman, said that before the employee -- whom she declined to identify -- went to the back room, he noticed three people standing near the registers.
A half-minute after he walked to the back of the store, the employee told the police, a shot rang out. When he returned to the front, the three customers were no longer in the store and Mr. Chung was lying on the floor behind the counter. He died within minutes, police said.
Agent Jenkins said there was evidence that Mr. Chung had put up a struggle. Nothing was missing from the registers.
Karla S. Leavelle, a spokeswoman for the Southland Corp., which franchises the 7-Eleven stores, said the convenience store chain has had a policy since 1976 of advising franchisees and store employees not to resist during robberies.
"If there is any type of confrontation, they are not to be aggressive," Ms. Leavelle said. "We don't want anyone to risk their lives for a few dollars. This is corporate policy."
She said the corporation has a proven safety program that has been embraced by police departments across the country as well as by other convenience store chains.
The Baltimore police said that during the first three months of the year there have been 23 convenience store robberies -- only two more than for the same period last year. But commercial robberies -- such as food markets and drug stores -- rose nearly 50 percent during the first quarter of the year, the police said.
They said robberies overall rose 14.3 percent during the first quarter.