Man charged with killing store owner

Suspect, 38, arrested after police chase ends in Baltimore crash

County's 7th homicide

Victim was carrying $125,000 when he was shot in Jessup deli

Howard County

October 10, 2003|By Gus G. Sentementes | Gus G. Sentementes,SUN STAFF

Howard County police charged a Baltimore man with first-degree murder yesterday in the robbery and fatal shooting of a Jessup deli owner who was returning from a bank Wednesday morning and holding a bag containing $125,000.

Police said they were preparing an arrest warrant for a second suspect, who was hospitalized after being shot by a Baltimore County police officer at the end of a chase through Howard and Baltimore counties that ended with an auto crash in Baltimore.

Police found the money bag - containing the amount of cash reported missing and bank deposit slips with the deli's name - and two handguns in the car, police charging documents show. One of the guns had two spent shell casings, according to the documents.

Howard police charged Walter J. Blannon, 38, of the 1600 block of N. Calvert St. in Baltimore, with first- and second-degree murder, and other charges that included armed robbery, assault and theft, the documents state.

The other suspect - tentatively identified by police as a 46-year-old man of an unspecified address - was in critical condition at Maryland Shock Trauma last night. He was shot by Baltimore County Officer Joshua Rees, 23, at the end of the chase, police said.

The killing of Kwang Jun Kim, 53, owner of the Jessup Plaza Deli & Convenience store and a Presbyterian church deacon, was Howard County's seventh homicide this year, equaling the total for last year.

Kim, an Ellicott City resident who came to the United States from South Korea in 1991, had a wife, a son who recently graduated from college and a daughter in high school.

The charging documents revealed additional details in the killing of Kim, who operated a deli, convenience store and check-cashing business in the 7800 block of Washington Blvd.

Kim was returning from a BB&T bank branch in Elkridge shortly after 11 a.m. when he was grabbed by two men as he walked into his store. The men tried to restrain him and take his moneybag - a beige sack with handles, police said.

One pointed a handgun at Kim, but he fought them. Kim was fatally shot in the head during the struggle, police said.

Witnesses at the scene gave police descriptions of the suspects and their car's license number, vehicle make and model: a gold-colored Chevrolet Malibu.

Officers responded to the scene at 11:15 a.m., and minutes later a Howard officer spotted the Malibu heading east on U.S. 40 near Patapsco Valley State Park, police said.

Witnesses said they saw Kim's wife, who was working in the store at the time of the shooting, run outside and across the plaza's parking lot, chasing after the car as it sped away.

The chase ended less than a half-hour later, after the Malibu turned off U.S. 40, which becomes Edmondson Avenue in the city, onto South Athol Avenue and crashed into a stone pillar at the entrance to a nursing home, police said.

A Baltimore County police car following the Malibu crashed into the rear of the Chevy. The driver, Officer Jessica Hummel, 26, was treated at St. Agnes HealthCare for injuries that were not life-threatening.

At the crash site, police found a handgun on the ground near one of the suspects. A second gun was found in the front passenger's compartment, after police executed a search and seizure warrant.

That gun had two spent shell casings and three live rounds, charging documents show.

In the documents, police identified Blannon as the driver of the Malibu.

Howard police said in the charging documents that Blannon has two convictions - both in 1983 - on robbery charges.

The Kim family will hold a viewing tonight at the Witzke Funeral Home in the 5500 block of Twin Knolls Road in Columbia, said the Rev. Youngho Lee, an associate pastor at Bethel Korean Presbyterian Church.

The funeral will be held at 10 a.m. tomorrow at the funeral home.

A graveside burial service will follow at 12:30 p.m. at Crest Lawn Memorial Gardens in the 2100 block of Marriottsville Road in Marriottsville.

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