In spite of protests, liquor store reopens

July 22, 2008|By Stephen Kiehl | Stephen Kiehl,Sun Reporter

A West Baltimore liquor store where a man was killed over the weekend reopened yesterday despite the objections of neighbors who say the store is a haven for drug activity.

Chang K. Yim, the owner of Linden Bar and Liquors, voluntarily closed Sunday, after a man waiting in line to buy alcohol was shot in the head inside the store Saturday night. But Yim reopened his store on West North Avenue about noon yesterday and his lawyer, Richard Bittner, said Yim cannot be blamed for the "unfortunate act of violence."

City police identified the victim as Omar Phillips, 35, of the 3200 block of Cardenas Ave. in Northwest Baltimore. They have not made any arrests in the case.

"What happened on Saturday night was a tragedy and an unfortunate occurrence, but my client had nothing to do with it happening," Bittner said. "It was pure coincidence that it occurred in line at the Linden Lounge. It could have occurred in line at the Giant or in line at the bus stop."

He said he believed the shooting was the result of "personal animosity" between the victim and gunman.

But neighbors of the store said that the owner allows young men to congregate inside and that they sell drugs from the store's lobby. They said violence is not uncommon or unexpected and that if the store shut down it would eliminate a place where drug dealers can conduct their business out of the view of the police.

"He should not be able to operate a business if he is not able to control the conditions in the establishment," said Remington Stone, president of the Reservoir Hill Improvement Council, which has collected more than 300 signatures urging that the store be closed.

In April, the city liquor board refused to renew the store's liquor license and ordered it sold to be used elsewhere in the city. Yim is appealing the decision. A hearing is scheduled for Sept. 23.

stephen.kiehl@baltsun.com

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