Store owner shot, killed in Germantown

July 18, 2009 8:16:31 PM PDT
Philadelphia Police are investigating a homicide in Germantown where a store owner, known as Ms. Kim to her customers, was shot and killed.It happened at around 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Andy's Food Mart located at the intersection of Chew Avenue and East Phil Ellena Street.

According to detectives on the scene, an altercation started between the store owner, whose full name is Jongyoun Kim, 61, of Northeast Philadelphia and the female suspect, identified as Nicole Dolby Becham, 27, of Germantown.

There are conflicting reports concerning this fatal shooting.

Some say Becham was trying to steal a bag of potato chips, but an eyewitness tells Action News this whole conflict started when the two women fought over a mop in front of the store.

Some neighbors tried to wash the blood from the sidewalk, while others tried to console the husband of the Kim, who reportedly left the store to run an errand.

The witness who spoke to Action News was too afraid to appear on camera, but she said, "The shooter stole a mop. Ms. Kim refused to let go of the mop?both fell to the sidewalk and the shooter's wig came off. That's when she put her hands in her pants, pulled out a gun and shot three times. She didn't even run away."

Witness Ronnie Carter confirms that, saying it was the shooter who called police.

"She walks to the payphone, puts the gun on top of the payphone, wig on top of the gun, calls 911, tells them that Ms. Kim has a gun, so she hangs the phone up, takes the gun, wig, sticks them in her waist, walks across Chew Avenue, goes up in the alleyway, hides the gun," Carter said.

The former owner of the store, Andrew Hwang, blames the murder on the easy access to guns, while residents say the shooter, described as a woman in her 20's, was mentally disturbed and was in and out of mental health facilities all the time when she wasn't living in abandoned buildings in the neighborhood.

Ms. Kim was highly respected and loved and as is her elderly husband.

"Very friendly store owners, if they had a bad day at home, they never brought it in the store. They always had a smile and they even tried to teach me Chinese every now and then. It's really heartbreaking," customer Courtney Twigs said.

A neighborhood vigil was held to remember Ms. Kim late Saturday.

Becham is charged with murder and weapons offenses. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for next week.