Widow stunned at arrest of 2 employees Treate's owner's widow says she had felt safe with the two held in slaying.

November 21, 1991|By Alisa Samuels | Alisa Samuels,Evening Sun Staff

The widow of the owner of a popular downtown restaurant says she had felt safe in the presence of two employees charged with first-degree murder in connection with her husband's slaying.

Young Mee Shin, the widow, said that last week she asked her employees to help her clean the restaurant, which had been closed since the Nov. 6 slaying, so that she could reopen Monday.

"Those two guys came and I told them I was counting on them," Shin said, adding she was stunned when she learned they had been arrested. "They looked normal to me. I felt safe enough to be alone with these two boys."

Her husband, Myung Gin "Mike" Shin, 32, was fatally shot in the face during a robbery as he struggled with two men about 4:30 p.m. Nov. 6 in Treate's, a restaurant on the ground level of the Equitable Building at 10 N. Calvert St. He died a short time later at the Shock-Trauma Unit in Baltimore.

On Tuesday night, police charged three teen-agers as adults and a 21-year-old man with first-degree murder in connection with Myung Shin's death.

Those charged were identified by police as Brian Johnson, 14, of the 2800 block of Ridgewood Ave.; Kendall Easter, 17, of the 3900 block of Towanda Ave.; Shawn Courtney, 17, of the 2800 block of Santa Fe Ave.; and James Hickman, 21, of the 2800 block of W. Cold Spring Lane.

Easter and Courtney worked in the kitchen at Treate's, police said.

Each suspect also was charged with handgun felony and armed robbery. Easter and Courtney were being held without bail last night at the Baltimore City Detention Center. Johnson and Hickman were being held without bail at the Northwestern District lock-up, police said.

Dennis Hill, a police spokesman, said police believe that Easter and Courtney helped plan the robbery and told the other suspects about a key to a room where cash receipts were kept.

"The 14-year-old and the 21-year-old came in and did the robbing and got away" with an undisclosed amount of money, Hill said. Easter and Courtney "said they were locked in a freezer. We don't know whether that's true or not."

Last night, Young Shin stood at a microphone outside Treate's and addressed 100 friends and customers who attended a vigil in honor of her slain husband.

"I just want to thank you all for coming out here . . ." she said, holding her sleeping daughter, Connie, 3. Tears streamed down Shin's face and emotions choked her words.

City Council President Mary Pat Clarke, Police Commissioner Edward V. Woods and others offered Shin condolences and called for an end to violence.

So far this year, 260 people have been killed in Baltimore, police said.

"Please, no more killings," pleaded Song Hoon Lee, a friend of the Shin family and president of the Korean Association of Maryland. "If you need it, take it. But don't kill anymore."

Alex Brown & Sons Inc., an investment banking firm, has established an education trust fund for Shin's daughter. A family friend said Myung Shin had no life insurance.

Young Shin said she will operate the restaurant. "It's going to be a little bit tough, but I will continue," she said earlier yesterday.

"She's incredible," said a customer, Sung Choi, 26, later. "Can you imagine [working where your husband was killed]? But she has to do it for her daughter."

During the vigil, Myung Shin's mother sat on steps with her back to the crowd. "She hasn't been able to stop crying since his death. He was the oldest," said Matthew Yoo, a family friend.

Speakers said Myung Shin was a hard-working and caring man and a dedicated member of Bethel Korean Presbyterian Church. He loved to read newspapers and business magazines. "He had such fun with this little girl here," Young Shin said, patting her daughter's head.

Myung Shin came to the United States from Korea eight years ago and later opened his restaurant. He hoped to retire at age 40 and enter the ministry, friends said.

At the vigil, mourners sang his favorite hymn, "When Peace, Like A River, Attendeth My Way."

Ann Lim, 29, a family friend, said Shin's death "just didn't register. You hear of something downtown but don't think of it happening to your friend, especially with the courts and police headquarters nearby. Basically, I guess you're not safe anywhere."

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