Quick thinking by a carryout owner who locked an alleged would-be robber inside his Petworth store on Friday led yesterday to charges against the man in the August stabbing death of a LeDroit Park convenience store owner, a D.C. police offical said.
Police have identified the man charged in the Aug. 1 slaying of store owner Thomas Kim as Leroy O. Quarles, 25, of 1026 45th St. NE. Kim was stabbed outside his 24-hour Day and Night convenience store at 1828 First St. NW while trying to hold a man who allegedly robbed the store. Kim later died at the Washington Hospital Center as a result of his injuries, police said.
Police said that Quarles is also being investigated in connection with numerous robberies committed this year against Korean-owned stores, a series of robberies that have alarmed the city's Korean business community. Similarities between the robbery at the First Street convenience store and a robbery attempt at the Petworth carryout operated by Insik Kim, 53, led police to seek murder charges against Quarles.
Yesterday, Insik Kim, owner of the Super Carryout at 4300 Georgia Ave. NW, recalled how he thwarted a holdup in his tiny carryout, which specializes in steak and cheese subs, as he prepared to close Friday.
"All of a sudden, this big man came in and said, 'This is a stickup,' " Kim said. "He had something in his pocket, which I thought was a knife."
Kim said he pushed against the man to keep the man from pulling the weapon from his pocket but the man jumped over the counter to get to the cash register.
Kim said his wife Jung Hee Kim, 43, leaped over the counter to get away from the robber while Kim kicked out the push door under the counter and both fled from the store. Outside, Kim closed the security gate, locking the man inside.
"The man inside kept trying to open the cash register," he said. "I watched him from the door."
Jung Hee Kim called police. When they arrived, they found Insik Kim standing guard at the door with Quarles still in the store, Kim said. He said police later found a pair of scissors on the store's floor.
"It is Kim who is the hero in this case," one official said. "He was the one who got the guy for us."
The family of Thomas Kim is also grateful to Insik Kim for his fast-footed work. The families are not related.
"You don't know how relieved I am," said Tong Kim, brother of Thomas Kim, speaking through a translator. "At least no one will be hurt anymore."
Tong Kim said he went to police headquarters on Monday to look at mug shots. It was two months ago that he had helped his 41-year-old brother subdue a knife-wielding man who had held up the family business. Kim left his brother to call police but when he returned the man was gone and his brother was lying wounded on the ground.
For a while the family considered returning to Korea, Kim said.
"They were terribly distressed by the incident," Kim said. "They were asking themselves why they had come to the United States in the first place."
Tong Kim, who heard about the arrest from a reporter, said he was sure the family would feel better about staying in the United States because of the arrest.