Fatal stabbing followed crash

City police say victim, 59, other driver argued after incident

red SUV sought

November 07, 2006|By Annie Linskey | Annie Linskey,sun reporter

A Columbia man who was fatally stabbed in broad daylight in downtown Baltimore was arguing over money after a fender bender, city police said yesterday.

The victim, Gap Suk Suh, 59, was seen exchanging heated words with the driver of the other vehicle at Jasper and Mulberry streets, near Lexington Market, shortly before lunch Friday, police said.

He was found in the middle of the eastbound lane of Mulberry and rushed to Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where he was pronounced dead.

"It is extremely unusual," said Matt Jablow, a Baltimore police spokesman, of the daylight killing in the city's downtown. Police said they have a witness but declined to elaborate on what the person saw. Police stressed that they are investigating the homicide, and they said they uncovered no motive in the killing other than the accident.

Suh was a native of South Korea who came to this country 30 years ago. He was the father of a 13-year-old boy. He fixed air-conditioning and heating systems, mostly for Korean stores, and his family says he served in the U.S. military for three years.

"I can't believe it," Chung Ja Louia, his fiancee, said. She said that "everybody wants to know why" Suh got out his car instead of calling police.

The two had lived together for 5 1/2 years, and tears came to her eyes when she recalled seeing Suh for the last time Friday morning. He told her to stay warm.

Louia said Suh worked hard and zipped around the city from job to job. She said he was supposed to be picking up a part for an air conditioner Friday morning before the accident.

She said Suh helped newcomers to the area's Korean community.

Yesterday, she gazed at her one photograph of him.

Police said Suh was driving a van and was involved in a minor accident about a block from where his body was found. Detectives are looking for the owner of a red sport utility vehicle with damage to its front.

Kristen Mahoney, chief of technical services for the city Police Department, said footage from surveillance cameras would play a role in the investigation. She declined to elaborate.

Suh became a citizen in 1976 and enlisted in the Army, according to his brother Qwon Suh.

"At that moment, the Korean political situation was worse," he said. "The economy was underdeveloped. It was not easy to find a job. At that time, the U.S. was a dream country."

Suh took to his adopted country and held a number of jobs - including working as a real estate agent in New York for several years before moving to the Baltimore area, Qwon Suh said. "He had a lot of skills. He was the brightest brother in my family," Suh said of his younger brother. "He loved to sing, make friends."

Gap Suk Suh was arrested two months ago on Interstate 95 in the city. A Maryland Transportation Authority officer reported seeing his 1997 black Mercedes Benz swerving and weaving across three lanes of traffic about 1 a.m. in the southbound lanes near Russell Street. Charging documents say the man's breath smelled of alcohol and that he told the officer he had had one shot.

A Breathalyzer test showed he had a blood alcohol level of 0.11 percent, the court documents show. In Maryland it is illegal to drive with a blood-alcohol level of 0.07 percent or higher.

Louia said the initial court case had been postponed and was pending. She called the incident out of character. "He was pretty upset because that happened," she said. "Usually, he doesn't drink, he doesn't smoke."

annie.linskey@baltsun.com

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