D.C. man charged in killings of father, son who owned NE wholesale store

By Chris L. Jenkins
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Southwest Washington man has been charged in last week's shooting deaths of a man and his son that had left their fellow Northeast shop vendors reeling, D.C. police said Tuesday.

Christian Taylor, 25, was charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the botched robbery and killings of Ming-Kun Chih, 59, and his son Li-Jen Chih, 32. The Chihs were shot last Wednesday afternoon in their wholesale store after trying to fight off their assailant.

The deaths of the Taiwanese nationals, who were well liked by the close-knit group of vendors whose shops line Fifth Street NE just north of Florida Avenue, prompted many in the community to demand more police presence.

Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) and Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier announced the arrest at a mid-afternoon news conference and praised a pair of patrol officers for tracking down Taylor. Lanier said police are still looking for someone who they think was in the getaway car during the robbery.

"I promised to put everything together the department has in finding those responsible for this horrific crime," said Lanier, who said police determined that robbery was the motive in the killings but that apparently no money had been taken. "I am pleased that we were able to close this case as quickly as we did."

Fenty acknowledged that the brazen midday killings had shaken the business owners and employees of the Fifth Street corridor -- stores that mostly sell tourist knickknacks and clothing.

"This has always been a great place for the residents of Washington, D.C., to come and shop," Fenty said. "I know all of Washington, D.C., is thankful to the police department for restoring some . . . tranquillity."

The announcement, held in front of the store where the father and son had worked for years, drew more than a dozen local business owners and employees. A pair of makeshift memorials stand in front of the store -- one decorated with flowers, the other a cardboard box, held down by a brick, inscribed with "The Lord is My Shepard" in yellow paint.

Several shopkeepers said that they were relieved by the arrest but that they hoped the police would keep up their increased presence.

"They're around here more now. . . . They've stepped up now," said Katrina Bonds, 36, who owns a store across from the Chihs' Lida's Wholesale.

Referring to the father and son, she added: "We knew them. They were good people. . . . I'm so glad they caught who did this to them."

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