Some Alexandria shop owners expressed anxiety yesterday over a recent spate of armed robberies at city convenience stores and the fatal shooting of a Mount Vernon Avenue shopkeeper on Friday.
Police spokesman Dennis Butler said it is "premature" to say there is a connection between the slaying of Mount Vernon Supermarket proprietor Im Soo Kim and robberies at 11 other city shops in the past three weeks.
But Butler said police, who are seeking to question several suspects in Kim's death, have not ruled out a possible link, even though no money was taken from Kim's store or wallet.
Eight of the 11 robberies occurred in the vicinity of Kim's grocery store at locations between "When he cocked the gun, that made me really nervous."
-- Albert M. Chung
Rte. 1 and Commonwealth Avenue, Butler said. The other three took place in or near Old Town.
Police are trying to locate witnesses to Kim's shooting, which occurred at 9:30 a.m. while the 50-year-old Korean-born shopkeeper apparently was alone in his store.
Kim, who died at Alexandria Hospital about 2 p.m. Friday, had been a shopowner for about 10 years, associates said. His store was closed yesterday, the door barred by a yellow plastic police ribbon that said "Do Not Cross."
Among those recently robbed is Chinese-born Albert M. Chung, owner of the Rosemont Park Market at East Walnut Street and Commonwealth Avenue.
Chung said a man with a gun entered his shop Nov. 7 and forced him to hand over the contents of his cash register. The man escaped by car, he said.
"When he cocked the gun, that made me really nervous," Chung said yesterday as he waited on customers. It was the second time his store has been robbed; the first time was eight years ago, he said.
Yim Vindal, owner of the Sunrise Market in the 3300 block of Rte. 1, said yesterday that she was held up by three men on Nov. 9 at 5:35 p.m. One of the assailants carried a gun, she said.
"It's made me nervous," she said, adding that she is now apprehensive when "a new face comes in," fearing it may mean another robbery. Vindal, who has owned her shop for three years, said it was the first time she has been robbed.
Butler said that in most of the robberies, two assailants, one of them armed, have entered the store and forced employes to hand over cash receipts and then lie on the floor. In most cases, the crimes occurred in the afternoon, he said.
Kim's slaying took place in the morning and, as far as police know, involved one assailant, Butler said. There was no sign of a struggle, he added.
Most of the robbed shops have foreign-born owners, Butler said, the majority of them from the Far East.
Among the stores recently robbed are Saki's Grocery on Mount Vernon Avenue, Colonial Market on Commonwealth Avenue, Duke Street Market on Duke Street, Royal Market on Royal Street and the Peoples Drug on South Washington Street.