Shop owner shoots himself in hand during chase

Police say he exchanged shots with men who tried to rob his Waverly store

July 07, 1999|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

The owner of a Waverly clothing shop accidentally shot himself in the hand yesterday as he chased and engaged two suspected robbers in a running gunbattle down a North Baltimore street, police said.

No arrests have been made, but the owner of Magic Men's Wear, Chang Suk Park, told police he thought a bullet from his .38-caliber Colt revolver hit one of the armed men. Police searched area hospitals but said no one was found seeking treatment for gunshot wounds.

A police spokeswoman said investigators were searching records to determine whether Park has a gun permit. No charges have been filed against Park for firing his weapon in public. He has owned the store in the 3200 block of Greenmount Ave. since the mid-1980s.

The midmorning gunfire in the crowded North Baltimore business district unnerved some merchants.

"There are robberies, but we are not used to the gunplay," said Morgan Allyn, deputy administrator of the Charles Village Community Benefits District, which assesses a tax on its members to pay for private security patrols. "That's why it's alarming."

Charles Village is southwest of Waverly, but the benefit district's security force also patrols Waverly businesses. Allyn said her organization discourages shop owners from having guns.

"This is their livelihood, but it isn't worth their lives," she said. "But the merchants get tired of the threats to their businesses."

Police were unable yesterday to say how many holdups have occurred recently in Waverly. Several store owners said they have been robbed several times.

Doug Williams, the owner of Kitty's Lounge, next to Park's store, said he has been held up at gunpoint three times in the past five years. He said he keeps a loaded handgun behind his bar.

The incident involving Park occurred shortly before 11 a.m. Agent Angelique Cook-Hayes, a police spokeswoman, said the two men spent about 30 minutes shopping and brought several items of clothing to the checkout counter.

As Park's co-worker and son rang up the order, Cook-Hayes said, one of the men pulled a 9 mm handgun and ordered Park and the son to the back of the store. Park grabbed his revolver as police said the men took more clothes, watches and other jewelry.

Police said Park chased the men out of the store and accidentally shot himself in the left thumb when he tried to shift the gun from his left to his right hand.

Park chased the men down Merryman Lane. Cook-Hayes said Park fired three to four shots and the gunman fired back several times. Police said that when Park ran out of bullets, he threw his gun at the white getaway car.

Park was treated at Union Memorial Hospital. He declined to comment yesterday.

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