Slain man had blocked robbery try Son believes killing was in retaliation

September 02, 1996|By Kate Shatzkin | Kate Shatzkin,SUN STAFF

Less than a month ago, liquor store owner Thomas Song Hall went up against a robber and won, pulling his gun on a would-be bandit brazen enough to try to take his hard-earned money by the light of day.

But his victory was short-lived.

Hall, 63, was killed Saturday night and his wife was wounded when a gunman wearing blue jeans and a red bandanna entered their store -- Tom's Liquors in the 1500 block of Annapolis Road in Odenton -- and began shooting.

Police were wondering whether it was retaliation for Hall's turning the tables.

Hall's son, Hyon Hall, thinks so. "The assailant came into the store. He didn't ask for cash," the younger Hall said. "He just came to my father and fired."

Hall's wife, Sue Jin Hall, 56, was shot once in the lower right leg, police said.

Then the gunman apparently left the store and fired more bullets into a van parked in front, hitting two Odenton men -- Michael pTC Lee Couture, 30, who was in serious condition at Maryland Shock Trauma Center with wounds to the right shoulder and back, and Scott Marshall Neil, 41, who was released after treatment for a wound to his left leg.

Thomas Hall, who saw combat while serving with the Korean Marine Corps in the early 1950s, came to the United States in 1972. He had operated the liquor store for seven years, and earlier ran a Korean restaurant on the site, his son said.

In the Aug. 6 incident, Hall told police he was emptying a box into a trash bin shortly before 2 p.m. when a man armed with a small silver revolver approached and told him to put his hands in the air.

Instead, Hall reached into his right pocket, pulled his gun and turned around, pointing it at the would-be robber, police said.

The man, who had covered his face with a white T-shirt with holes cut near the eyes, ran toward an abandoned lot, according to police.

Hall fired one round into the air as the gunman fled, police said.

"I am thinking, 'I am an old man. The robbery man is shooting me, I am shooting, too,' " Hall told a reporter after the incident. "I'm not afraid. I've faced the Korean War. There was a lot of shooting."

Hyon Hall, 32, said that other than the August incident, his father had had little trouble at his business, though a robbery was committed nearby recently.

But he said his father detected someone following him home from the liquor store on two occasions, and began carrying a gun for protection.

Hyon Hall described his father as "probably the strongest man I ever knew," who worked three jobs to bring his wife and three children to this country in 1975. He opened the liquor store at 9 a.m. and closed it at 10 p.m., seven days a week.

Pub Date: 9/02/96

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