To the Greene family, Yong Mun Kim was the next-door neighbor who seemed to be singing all the time, his Korean melodies drifting from the open windows of his home and audible even over the sound of his lawn mower as he cut his grass.
The skilled auto-body repairman would spot fresh dings on their cars and come over to fix them. No charge.
Those experiences made Monday’s news about what had happened in the middle of the night in the Kim home unbelievable to the Greene family.
Police say the 57-year-old Kim fatally gunned down his wife and 10-year-old son and critically wounded his daughter, thought to be about 11, and another family member, 22. Then, police said, he used his handgun to kill himself.
“I can’t come to grips with this,” Shannon Greene, 21, a college student, said Monday. “It’s just horrible.”
Detectives believe the relationship between Kim and his wife, Sang Yeon Kim, 48, had become strained, said Capt. Paul Starks, a Montgomery County police spokesman.
Detectives were still trying to sort exactly what prompted the violence in the two-story red-brick house on Amberleigh Drive in the Colesville area of the county.
“It’s just a horrible tragedy,” Starks said.
The Kims’ son, Andy Kim, was a fourth-grader at Westover Elementary School, school officials said.
“For those of our students and families who knew Andy, we ask that you remember his creativity and gentle spirit,” Westover Principal Audra Wilson wrote Monday in a letter to parents.
At 12:06 a.m. Monday, police and paramedics went to the home, which is near the interchange of the Intercounty Connector and New Hampshire Avenue, after receiving a report of multiple people shot inside.
Yong Kim and Sang Kim died in the house. Andy died at a hospital.
His sister was taken to a hospital in critical condition, as was the 22-year-old family member, a woman who had been able to call 911, Starks said.
“The investigation by detectives determined that Yong Kim and Sang Kim were married and that Yong Kim is believed to be the father of the juveniles,” police said in a statement. “The 22-year-old female is believed to be the daughter of Sang Kim from a previous relationship.”
Yong Kim was born in Korea, according to a marriage certificate filed in Montgomery County Circuit Court, and by the 1980s he was living in the county, court filings show.
In about 1997, Rami Kouncar hired Kim at his auto-repair shop in White Oak. “He was one of my best employees ever, ever,” Kouncar said Monday. “This guy would never say a bad word. You would never see him mad.”
Kim worked weekdays, sometimes coming in for a few hours of work on a Saturday with his daughter. He enjoyed fishing. He smoked and jogged, according to those who knew him.
Kim worked at the garage until about 2003. Kouncar said he saw him recently, sitting in traffic near his business. Kim flashed him a smile and a wave.
“Who knows what happened to him?” Kouncar said.
Jim Greene and his family moved onto Amberleigh Drive in the late 1990s. Kim lived next door. He was the only neighbor who stopped by to welcome them, Greene said.
Every Christmas, Kim would bring over a present: Asian pears.
Kim appears to have been married at least twice before he married Sang Kim, according to divorce papers filed in Montgomery County.
Records indicate Yong Kim married another woman in Rockville on Oct. 26, 1990. They had a daughter, born in 1991. In 1993, he and his wife each filed for divorce. Each claimed that they had been deserted by the other.
In his filings, Yong Kim included an affidavit from his mother, who said the couple’s daughter had been living with her and her son during a separation and that her son was “fit and suitable to care and raise” the child.
Kim married again in Rockville in August of 2002 but started living apart from his wife in June 2003, court filings show. The couple had no children while they were married, the filings state. Kim filed for divorce in August 2004, saying “there is no reasonable hope or expectation of reconciliation.”
Washington Post reporters Donna St. George, Michael Brice-Saddler and Dana Hedgpeth contributed to this article.