A well-liked H Street Northeast deli owner was shot in the neck and killed during an apparent robbery inside her shop early Thursday morning, according to D.C. police.
Hae Soon Lim, 64, whom her customers knew as “June,” was found dead inside Grace Deli at around 6:30 a.m. by another employee arriving for work, Metropolitan Police Department homicide detective Lt. Robert Alder said.
“We don’t know if somebody followed her in or came in after she was inside the establishment,” Lt. Alder said of the potential robbery, adding that there were no signs of forced entry to the store.
Ms. Lim had owned the store, on the 700 block of H Street Northeast, for eight years and was planning to retire within the next year, her son Peter Lim said.
“We are really pleading with the community for information. We really need help,” he said.
Police found Ms. Lim dead behind the front counter of the store. She had been shot once.
Lt. Alder said police have no immediate suspects in the homicide and declined to elaborate on what may have been taken from the store.
However an internal police alert that was sent out about the shooting stated that the cash register was found open and empty and a gun holster was found inside the store.
Standing across the street from the store where his mother had served basic breakfast and lunch fare and sold convenience store goods, Mr. Lim watched Thursday morning as investigators collected evidence from inside.
Every few minutes, a stranger would emerge from the throng of onlookers gathered nearby to shake Mr. Lim’s hand and offer condolences.
“She was so nice. No one should have done that to her,” Sharon Campbell, a regular customer, said through tears.
Ms. Campbell and several other employees at the District’s Department of Human Services building located across the street from Grace Deli said they planned to organize a vigil for Ms. Lim at noon Friday.
Dorothy Jackson, a neighborhood resident who walked past the taped off crime scene Thursday with her grandson, said Ms. Lim was always friendly with customers.
“If I didn’t have the money to pay her she would just say, ‘Oh next time,’“ Ms. Jackson said. “She always had a smile on her face.”
Mr. Lim said his mother kept a very regular store schedule. Each weekday morning she drove to the store from her Rockville home, arriving between 5 and 6 a.m., he said. She closed the store when the D.C. government workers next door, who comprised the bulk of her customers, left for the day between 5 and 6 p.m.
“Her routine was to come in early mornings and prop the door halfway open,” Mr. Lim said. “Someone must have followed her in.”
Online MPD crime statistics show that as of Tuesday, 11 robberies, including one in which a gun was used, were reported this year within 1000 feet of the store. During all of 2011, there were 26 robberies reported, including nine robberies at gunpoint, within the same area.