Korean-American community demands answers after deadly stabbing in Lakewood

LAKEWOOD, Wash. — As the McChord Mart readies to reopen two weeks after its beloved owner In Choe was killed during a robbery, the storefront is still covered with flowers and candles -- and Choe's killer is still on the loose.

A group of Korean-American business owners and community members met with city leaders at Lakewood City Hall Monday night following the deadly stabbing of Choe.

Choe, 59, was killed the night of October 14 during a robbery at McChord Mart, the store she owned.

The police department released surveillance video from the family run business that shows the suspect moments before he went after cash in the register.

During Monday night’s meeting, Chief Mike Zaro gave information about the case and answered public safety questions with a translator from the police department.

The police chief said during the meeting, Choe immediately tried to fend off the suspect and that’s when the suspect pulled out a weapon.

With stab injuries, Choe managed to run the suspect out of the store, according to police. The suspect fled on foot and Choe was found outside in serious condition.

Choe later died in the hospital from her injuries.

“Somebody gets away with a couple hundred dollars you can recover from that and it’s tough. If she would’ve won we would’ve all been celebrating her as this older store clerk that fought off this robber but that wasn’t the case,” said Chief Zaro, Lakewood Police Department.

Zaro said the meeting that took place in two languages, English and Korean, was the first of its kind for him.

“It’s worth doing and I’d rather go through this bit of discomfort with a translator and make sure everybody gets the information they need,” said Chief Zaro.

The storefront is covered with flowers, candles and other items in memory of Choe, who customers affectionately referred to as Mama San.

The business will reopen on Wednesday, October 30.

The suspect hasn’t been identified, and his whereabouts are unknown.

The Korean-American community plans on raising funds in hopes that a reward will encourage tips from the public.

If you have any information about this case, get in touch with the Lakewood Police Department Criminal Investigation Tip Line (253) 830-5064.