Clues sought in clerk's killing

Victim of shooting at grocery planned to return to India

January 09, 2001|By Del Quentin Wilber | Del Quentin Wilber,SUN STAFF

Baltimore police were still searching for clues yesterday in the killing Sunday night in Southwest Baltimore of a grocery clerk, who friends said was a quiet, hard-working man planning on returning to his native India.

Varinder Singh, 39, was shot and killed during a robbery about 5:30 p.m. while working at the Shop N' Go Food Mart in the 700 block of Washington Blvd.

Friends said the death carries an added tragedy. Singh was going to return permanently to India a few months ago, but his good friend and boss asked him to stay a few more months to help at the store.

Singh agreed and put off returning to his wife and 7-year-old daughter for a little longer.

"He missed his family," said Mohammed Mushtaq, a close friend of Singh's. "He promised [his wife] that he was going back."

Police said they have few clues in the slaying. They said a robber entered the store brandishing a gun, demanded money from Singh, took an undisclosed amount and shot him. The gunman then fled toward Martin Luther King Boulevard.

Police said they will continue to question witnesses and suspects.

Friends of Singh said another clerk was in the store during the robbery. That man speaks little English. But he told friends that the robber first targeted him, taking money from him and then hitting him in the head with a gun.

The friends said the gunman then demanded money from Singh, took it, noticed a few dollars left in the register and ordered Singh to turn that over.

As Singh handed him the cash, the gunman shot him, the friends said. He died about an hour later at Maryland Shock Trauma Center.

Singh, of the 6700 block of Brentwood Ave., Dundalk, lived next door to his employer, Rajinder Singh. Yesterday afternoon, a group of friends gathered at Rajinder Singh's home to mourn the loss of the man they described as "quiet."

Money sent to family

They said that Varinder Singh had "big dreams" when he moved here about four years ago and had been sending money to his wife and daughter.

He was born in Punjab, a state in northern India, graduated from high school and earned a bachelor's degree from college, his friends said. Singh then became a farmer.

Eventually, he decided he wanted to join his good friend, Rajinder Singh, in the United States, and he moved to Dundalk. He soon began working for his friend.

Friends said that Singh was always friendly and hard-working. He didn't seem to have any hobbies or other interests except for his family, whom he called often, friends said.

"He was always showing me a picture of his daughter or his wife," Mushtaq said. "He was a great guy. He didn't talk much. He was so polite with everybody."

"He went to work and slept," Rajinder Singh said.

Store moved

Rajinder Singh once owned a grocery at North Avenue and Asquith Street in North Baltimore. But he said he felt the neighborhood was getting too dangerous so he moved the store to Washington Boulevard about three years ago.

Neighbors and other shoppers in Washington Village, just west of Camden Yards and PSINet Stadium, welcomed him into the area.

"We've never had any problems," Rajinder Singh said. "Everybody was friendly.

Detectives asked that anyone with information call them at 410-396-2100.

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