Spanaway convenience-store clerk pleads guilty to murder after shooting shoplifter

Min Sik Kim

TACOMA, Wash. – The Spanaway convenience store clerk who shot and killed a would-be shoplifter last March pleaded guilty to second-degree murder on Thursday.

Min Sik Kim will be sentenced June 23 in the death of 21-year-old Jameel Rashon Mason.

It was the second shooting at the convenience store in less than two months, and the decision to prosecute Kim caused some controversy at the time.

Kim’s wife, Suel, was involved in a shootout with a would-be armed robber in February 2016 at the store at 167th and Pacific Ave. She was shot in the side, and the robber was soon arrested.

The family had purchased a gun after yet another earlier robbery.

Then, on March 24, Kim went outside to talk to a group of men who were loitering outside the store. Mason used the opening to go inside and steal a pack of cigarettes from behind the counter.

Prosecutors said Kim went back in, pulled a pistol from his waistband, and held Mason at gunpoint. Video allegedly shows Mason putting his hands up as Kim backed him into a shelf and punched him in the face.

At that point, prosecutors say, the two struggled and Mason ran for the door, stopping to pick up the pack of cigarettes. Video shows Kim shooting Mason twice in the back and Mason collapsing in the doorway.

“He was keep reaching for my gun and I was really afraid,” Kim told Q13 News before he was arrested.

Prosecutor Mark Lindquist explained his decision to charge Kim in a statement at the time.

“The defendant’s frustrations are understandable, but his actions were not lawful,” Pierce County prosecutor Mark Lindquist said in a press release. “Shop owners cannot legally shoot unarmed shoplifters attempting to flee.”

Q13 News talked to Suel Kim’s father after the first shooting.

“I’m so very angry right now, you know?” he said. “No shooting! No shooting!  OK? Hey young guys, you need money, you work, you work.”