Grocer fatally shoots son, mistaking him for burglar


As police stood outside, a grocery store owner shot and killed his 27-year-old son early yesterday after mistaking the young man for a burglar in the family's Greenmount Avenue supermarket, homicide detectives said.

Neighbors around the row-house grocery in the downtrodden area just south of Green Mount Cemetery said the father -- identified by police as 55-year-old Gil Nam Sung -- began carrying a weapon after a relative was shot and killed in the store more than a year ago.

Police identified the dead son as Moo Yul Sung, who lived in Woodlawn. The younger Mr. Sung was shot once in the left side of the chest with a 9mm handgun after 4 a.m.

He was declared dead on the second floor of the building housing Johnston's Supermarket in the 1300 block of Greenmount Avenue, where he had gone to turn off a burglar alarm believed to have gone off accidentally.

Investigators said the single shot was fired by the father, who had been sleeping in a room above the store when the alarm went off.

Dennis S. Hill, a city police spokesman, said the older Mr. Sung -- who apparently does not live above the store but was staying there Friday night -- will not be charged in the shooting.

At 3:57 a.m. yesterday, police and the younger Mr. Sung were alerted by a security company that the supermarket's burglar alarm was sounding. The police arrived within minutes and, after discovering that the business was not being robbed, waited for Moo Yul Sung to arrive and turn off the alarm.

When Mr. Sung walked to the second floor, he was shot.

A family that owns a corner carryout at Greenmount Avenue and Preston Street, adjacent to the supermarket, said the Sung family had owned the store at least 14 months.

"One of the family was shot there before, about a year ago," said a woman at the carryout, who did not know the earlier victim's name.

A friend of the family, Sue Kim, said that Mr. Sung's uncle had been killed in the store more than a year ago. Ms. Kim also said the older Mr. Sung began sleeping in a room above the store a few weeks ago after someone broke in and stole several small items.

Ms. Kim said the younger Mr. Sung had given his father the gun for protection.

Joseph Oh, a vice president of the Korean Businessmen's League of Baltimore, said Johnston's Supermarket has been the scene of frequent violence. "That's a bad corner, a real bad corner," Mr. Oh said. "But [many] Koreans have the attitude that violence goes with the territory. I think they realize there's a risk involved when you run a grocery store, but this is so sad."


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