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Spanaway clerk facing murder charge in fatal shooting of would-be shoplifter

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SPANAWAY, Wash. – A Pierce County convenience store clerk is now behind bars. Police say he shot and killed an unarmed 21-year-old man allegedly shoplifting on Friday night.

Sheriff’s deputies arrested 30-year-old Min Kim early Monday afternoon; Kim and his family operate the Pacific Quickmart on Pacific Avenue South.

Both the store and Kim’s family are no stranger to gunfire. The arrested clerk’s wife suffered a gunshot wound during a shootout with an alleged robber in February.

Q13 News interviewed Min Sik Kim just hours before police arrested him on Monday, Kim said he feared for his life and had to defend himself.

But investigators say the man he killed, 21-year-old Jakeel Mason, posed no threat and was shot twice in his back as he tried leaving the store.

Kim recounted his Friday night encounter in front of Q13 News cameras.

“He was keep reaching for my gun and I was really afraid,” Kim said.

Kim said Mason trying to steal cigarettes and then pushed him to the ground and tried to steal his gun.

“I pulled my gun out and I shot him a couple times,” said Kim.

But Pierce County sheriff’s deputies said that store surveillance video captured a much different scenario between the clerk and the victim, showing Mason trying to get away.

“The struggle that we see on the video is the store clerk punching the suspect and when the suspect goes to leave the store, we have video of the store clerk firing rounds at him,” said Detective Ed Troyer.

It’s not the first time bullets flew inside the convenience store that’s only been open for eight months, according to Kim.

In February, Kim’s wife, Suel, got into a shootout with an alleged robber. A bullet ripped through her side and the shooter took off running. She recovered.

Police quickly arrested that suspect but said the two shootings aren’t related.

But this time, police said Suel’s husband wasn’t in any danger.

“We know that just the previous month that his wife was shot at in a robbery, we understand that,” Troyer said. “That probably leads to high emotions and people carrying weapons, but if you’re going to carry weapons you have to have the responsibility of carrying that weapon. We can’t have shoplifts turn into homicides.”

The shooting victim in this case is no stranger to law enforcement; Police said Mason pleaded guilty after trying to abduct a 6-year-old Tacoma girl, and also pleaded guilty to attempted burglary.

Min Kim will likely face a judge on Tuesday when he could be charged with second-degree murder.