Death darkens door of court workers' lunchtime haven

November 08, 1991|By Ginger Thompson

Each day usually, as a break in the routine of dealing with robberies and murders, mayhem and rape, the judges and lawyers, policemen and clerks leave the Baltimore Circuit Court buildings and go out to lunch.

It's a short walk to Treate's, at 10 N. Calvert St. And each day, some of the courthouse crowd sat down there to eat, in the restaurant owned by a quiet, determined, ambitious Korean man named Myung Gin Shin, who had moved his family into the city, close to the restaurant from which he hoped to make enough money to retire by the time he was 40.

But for many of those who deal with crime in the courthouse, Mr. Shin was not a name they came to know until Wednesday, when, about three hours after lunch, two robbers came in and shot him dead. It gave some of those hardened by crime more reason for hopelessness.

"I saw them carry [Mr. Shin] out on the stretcher. He didn't have any shoes on," said Jonay Bolton, who has worked as a courthouse clerk for eight years. "I just thought . . . well, I've seen worse."

Pointing across the hall to the records office, Ms. Bolton added, "Heck, you open up some of those files and you can see pictures of dead babies."

Mr. Shin -- who was known by his customers and friends as "Mike" -- was killed in what police called "a robbery that went bad." The restaurateur had closed for the day, and he was cleaning his store with two other employees about 4:30 p.m. when two robbers entered and demanded money. When Mr. Shin began struggling with one of the thieves, the other shot Mr. Shin in the face with a small-caliber handgun.

He died a few hours later at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center. No arrests had been made yesterday.

"I think it speaks to this whole horrendous phenomenon spinning out of control," said Circuit Judge John Carroll Byrnes, another regular at Treate's. "These are people with no sense of responsibility, even as criminals. It's like there is no honor among thieves."

Sheriff Sgt. Michael J. Cortez said every day, dozens of armed police officers and sheriff's deputies would spend their lunch hours at Treate's, but by 3 p.m., the restaurant was usually empty.

"I'm just sorry I couldn't have been there so I could have laid that guy away like he laid [Mr. Shin] away. That's what I would have done," Sergeant Cortez said.

Deputy Sheriff Francis McManus, who was particularly fond of the fresh turkey sandwiches at Treate's, called Mr. Shin a "cordial, hard-working" man.

Mr. McManus was disgusted by the murder, but said, "I was a police officer for 20 years before I came here, so nothing surprises me. It's sad to say about this city, but it's the kind of world we live in."

Until Wednesday, however, it seemed that Mr. Shin was never swept into that world.

Mr. Shin was married and was the father of a 3-year-old daughter. He was an optimistic man with a deep faith in God and high ambitions. He immigrated to this country eight years ago and planned to some day work as a missionary in a Third World country.

"He was very adventurous and ambitious," said Ann Lim, who had known him for more than four years. "He was not one to complain. And he was not one to be afraid of anything."

Many of Mr. Shin's customers laid flowers around the door of Treate's yesterday afternoon. Mrs. Lim said that a funeral for Mr. Shin, who lived in a modest apartment in the 200 block of North Charles Street, is scheduled for Saturday at the Witzke Funeral Home at 1630 Edmondson Ave., Catonsville.

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