Richmond killing leaves many at a loss

The shooting death of a shopkeeper in San Francisco’s Richmond district has police searching for witnesses and neighbors mourning their loss.

On Saturday, a customer at the New California Market at 5701 California St. found Jinsun Lee, 54, unconscious and slumped over behind her counter. The customer called 911, and paramedics transported Lee to St. Mary’s hospital, where it was discovered she had been shot, police said Monday.

Lee is the 58th homicide victim recorded in San Francisco this year. At this same time last year, 47 homicides had been recorded as 2005 marked a 10-year high in The City’s homicide rate, with a total of 96.

Police spokesman Steve Mennina said Monday that Lee was shot between 5:30 and 5:45 p.m. Police have not said whether the store had been robbed. He said police are looking for witnesses, including any customers who might have been in the store between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. Monday.

On Monday flowers adorned the market’s padlocked door.

“You are in our thoughts and prayers. God bless you,” read one sign.

A steady flow of neighbors passed the store Monday, many stopping to read the notes and look at the flowers.

“She was so friendly; she always smiled,” said Julie Reeber, a neighbor who said she visited the store daily. “All of a sudden I was like, oh my God, I need to lock my door more and not take this all for granted. It’s scary that it happened just a block away.”

Les Wisner, another neighbor and owner of the nearby Bazaar Café, said the violence saddened him more than it scared him.

“It doesn’t make me fearful any more than I would be before. It’s just the personal aspect. Knowing somebody clearly, that touches a different nerve than reading about it happening to someone else,” he said.

Neighbors indicated that Lee and her husband worked in their store every day. They said the couple has two daughters.

Several passers-by said the store had security cameras, but police did not say whether the shooting was captured on tape. Anybody with information is encouraged to call the department's confidential tip line at (415) 575-4444.

amartin@examiner.com

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