Quiet vigil held at slain grocery owner's store

October 28, 1992|By Michael James and Roger Twigg | Michael James and Roger Twigg,Staff Writers

Sung Gu Shin's alleged killers were arrested yesterday morning, and by nightfall, about 25 people gathered around the small grocery store where he was shot to stage a protest of murder in Baltimore.

"We have to stop killing. We have to stop taking drugs," Jae K. Yoo, the president of the Korean Businessmen's League of Maryland, said in a quiet voice to the crowd. "It must end."

Mr. Yoo and the dozen or so Korean merchants who joined him held candles and stood silent as the Rev. Willie Ray, who has organized numerous anti-crime rallies after Baltimore murders, shouted, "Stop the Killing! Stop the Violence!"

"We hope just being here will be a help," said Tailor Lee, who owns a carryout in the 1000 block of E. Lombard St. "Nothing we yell will stop what has been happening."

Mr. Shin, 43, was shot in the head Oct. 14 by an armed robber who walked into his Best Food Mart, a small corner grocery he ran for eight years with his wife, children and in-laws.

The gunman and his accomplice didn't take any money and ran out of the store, at the corner of North Washington Street and East North Avenue.

Yesterday morning, two men were charged with first-degree murder, attempted armed robbery and a handgun violation for Mr. Shin's death, city police said. They were identified as Daryl Keith Martin, 23, of the 3400 block of Garrison Blvd. and Allen Elijah James, 19, of the 3300 block of Oakfield Ave.

The two men were arrested after police received numerous tips to the Metro Crime Stoppers hot line after a flood of media publicity after Mr. Shin's shooting. A resident in the community provided key information in the arrest, police said.

On Oct. 14 at 7:30 p.m., two men carrying handguns went into Mr. Shin's store, a neighborhood grocery where he worked 15 hours a day, seven days a week. One gunman confronted Mr. Shin in the rear of the store while the other held his wife at bay near the front door.

The store proprietor was then fatally shot in the head in front of his 7-year-old son. The two men, who police said apparently panicked, fled without taking any money.

Mr. Shin, the father of two young sons who lived with his family in an apartment above the store, died the following day at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center.

Mr. Ray has held many vigils in the neighborhoods where families have suffered the loss of a loved one. Yesterday, the rally was quieter than the others, though he yelled with fervor for the community to get involved with fighting crime.

Mr. Shin's family has not opened the store for business since the shooting. None of them attended the rally yesterday. "His [Mr. Shin's] shadow is still here. Mrs. Shin cannot forget him. She does not think she can come back," Mr. Yoo said.

Mr. Yoo, who has been in regular contact with Mr. Shin's family since the murder, said it will be a comfort for them to know arrests have been made. But the future for the corner grocery is uncertain, he said.

"This situation is terrible. Mrs. Shin spends 20 hours a day on the bed. She won't get up," Mr. Yoo said. "Yet, the family is in real trouble. She has two children, and her mother and father. How will she protect that poor family?"

Mr. Yoo said that the family doubts they will reopen the store and will probably sell it.

Mr. Ray urged the East Baltimore neighborhood to give the family support and to ask God for help in battling Baltimore's crime predicament.

"I don't get a kick out of constantly having these vigils," he said. "But we've got to let the world know we're fired up and we're not going to take it anymore."

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