by: Monique Ming Laven Updated:
TACOMA, Wash. - Shane Kim is a young, soft-spoken convenience store clerk. He says hi to his customers in a slightly hushed voice. He is not imposing. But an attempted robber found out the hard way that Shane is not to be messed with.
Shane works at KJ Market on McKinley Avenue and East 64th Street in Tacoma. Bars on the windows and a sign telling customers no hoodies or masks are allowed in the store hint at the problems you might find on this corner.
The market has been held up at least twice before. There's often a group of people in the parking lot, lingering in the shadows. Customers occasionally try to pass off counterfeit bills.
A fake hundred dollar note prompted Shane to call police just last week. While on the phone, officers also warned him there was an armed robber in the area.
They described the male suspect as an African-American in his 30s, about 6 feet tall, with a heavy build and wearing a dark sweatshirt and jeans, hoodie and gloves-- had targeted 17 other convenience stores and sandwich shops since Christmas. Officers told Shane to be on the lookout. He was.
When a man with a similar description came into the store just after 10 p.m. on Saturday night, blatantly ignoring the "no hoodies" sign, Shane was very suspicious. He inched over toward the two and a half foot wooden club he kept behind the counter. It's a good thing.
Moments later, the man came up to the counter and quickly pulled out a small gun. But even more quickly, Shane grabbed the wooden club and let the man have it. He cracked him on the side of the head.
"When I saw it, I just like -- lost my mind -- (it) just happened like that," he explained, and said he even felt a little guilty about hitting the guy so hard. The suspect stumbled, then walked out of the store.
Investigators said they feel no sympathy.
"He may have a mark or some leftover bruising from that," noted Detective Ed Troyer from the Pierce County Sheriff's Office.
That may be the break investigators have been waiting for. Some videos from the various robberies are pretty clear, but the suspect's face is largely hidden. Now someone who may have a suspicion about a person they know can also check to see if he has some sort of injury on the left side of his head.
Crimestoppers of Tacoma/Pierce County is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and charges filed against the person responsible.
Meanwhile, customers are rewarding Shane with visits to his store, handshakes and congratulations.
"That was good," said neighborhood mother and businesswoman, Mina Hart. "Shane was ready. He ran him out, so yeah, kudos!"