A 30-year-old Korean merchant who was selling illegal fireworks from a van in East Baltimore was fatally wounded early yesterday during a dispute over fireworks stolen from the van by a Barclay-area teen-ager, police reported.
Seoug Han Chang, who lived at his store in the 2400 block of Barclay St., was shot in the left abdomen and right armpit.
He was pronounced dead on arrival at 1:25 p.m. at Union Memorial Hospital.
Mr. Chang's death was the first of three slayings investigated by Baltimore homicide detectives early yesterday morning.
Detectives are trying to identify the other two victims: a young woman found strangled behind a West Baltimore funeral establishment, and a young man shot to death on an East Baltimore corner known for drug trafficking.
The dispute that led to Mr. Chang's death began about 12:45 a.m. at East 23rd Street and Greenmount Avenue, where the victim and one of his employees, identified as Tony Faison, were selling fireworks from a van.
At one point, a neighborhood youth grabbed some of the fireworks from the back of the vehicle and fled, detectives said.
Mr. Chang and Mr. Faison then left the neighborhood, returning a short time later to the same intersection, where they spotted the youth back on the corner, police said.
Mr. Faison pulled a 9mm semiautomatic pistol, jumped from the van and pointed the weapon at the young man.
Investigators said he then began to pull the firing mechanism of the pistol back and forth in a futile effort to fire the gun. The action caused the pistol to harmlessly eject live ammunition from the chamber.
The youth fled into the 400 block of E. 22 1/2 St., returning a few moments later with several friends, one of whom was armed with what police believe to be a .38-caliber revolver.
The gunman fired several shots, striking Mr. Chang, who was standing beside the van.
Mr. Faison was unhurt. He dragged Mr. Chang into the van and drove to Union Memorial Hospital, where he left Mr. Chang, but fled in the van.
Mr. Faison was eventually detained by police when he was involved in a subsequent traffic accident.
Mr. Faison was being interviewed by detectives yesterday.
Neither weapon used in the dispute had been recovered, and police were still trying to identify the other gunman last night.
A short time later, at 1:41 a.m., Eastern District officers were called to East Eager and McDonogh streets, just north of Johns Hopkins Hospital. They found the body of a black male in his 20s, shot twice in the head with a 9mm semiautomatic.
The victim, who was pronounced dead at the scene, carried no identification and had only a $1 bill and two pennies in his possession.
Detectives have no motive for the killing, but note that the area is known for drug trafficking.
Although the corners just east of Broadway between Ashland and Chase are typically crowded in the early morning hours -- young New York traffickers sell cocaine there at all hours -- no one was on the street when police arrived.
About three hours later, detectives were called to the scene of the morning's third homicide.
Western District officers found the body of a black female in her 30s, dumped in the 1700 block of McKean Ave., just behind the Phillips funeral establishment on Monroe Street.
The victim, who carried no identification, was bound and partially dressed, a ligature mark on her neck indicating that she was the victim of strangulation -- an indication confirmed by an autopsy later in the morning.
Police have yet to identify the woman.
She was wearing black leotards and a white T-shirt with the inscription "Rothschild Sportswear" on it, but no shoes.
Her neck, hands and feet were bound, and detectives found the body was warm to the touch -- indicating that she was killed a short time before her body was discovered.
Anyone with information about any of the slayings is urged to contact the city homicide unit at 396-2100.