OAKLAND -- An East Oakland market owner is dead and a 14-year-old boy authorities say is responsible was charged Friday with murder.
What makes the case even more tragic, authorities said, is that the violent confrontation between the two started over two bottles of vodka and the suspect probably never intended to cause the man's death.
Dong Suk Kang, 57, a Korean immigrant who lived in San Bruno, died of an apparent heart attack Tuesday after a physical struggle with the high school freshman over the liquor, according to witnesses and investigators.
"This is just an appalling, awful incident," said Allison Danzig, Alameda County senior deputy district attorney, who filed murder and robbery charges against the youth. "All of us are very upset about this."
Autopsy results are still pending, but authorities say it appears Kang died of a heart attack triggered by the exertion and anxiety he experienced during the confrontation.
Under felony murder rule statutes, under which the youth was charged, it doesn't matter whether the boy intended for Kang to die, Danzig said. If someone dies during the course of a violent crime, the offender is responsible for the crime victim's death, she said.
Just before Kang died, Danzig said, "He had just been through a very upsetting, violent confrontation with this kid."
On Tuesday morning, when the boy walked into the Oak Knoll Market, 7980 Mountain Blvd., with two teenage girls, Kang instantly recognized him, Danzig said. He had been banned from the store for knocking over display cases, throwing things at the owners or yelling at the owners.
The confrontation started after Kang saw the youth take two bottles of Grey Goose vodka, authorities said.
When Kang tried to stop the boy, a violent pushing-and-shoving match began, and the boy threatened to do the man harm, Officer Angelica Mendoza said. At one point the boy slammed Kang against a counter, Mendoza said. Kang's wife of two years, In Cha Ho, said she saw the boy hit her husband in the face.
Eventually, the boy fled the store. Kang told his wife to call police and got in his car to follow the teen. A few blocks away Kang lost consciousness, and his car swerved to a stop against a curb. He died at Highland Hospital.
Ho said her husband had owned the store for 2 ½ years and worked there seven days a week.
"I'm just so sad," Ho said. She does not know if she will keep the market open, as regular customers shocked over her husband's death have urged her to, she said. "I don't know yet. I'm just taking it a day at a time."
Ho, who said she cries every time she sees her husband's shoes and clothes at their home, said she was glad the boy was charged with such a serious crime.
"You kill people, you have to be punished," she said. "I hope he doesn't get out of jail."
The boy was arrested Wednesday morning at his home. Police said he has admitted his involvement in the attack. His name was not released because of his age. As of Friday morning, an attorney had not been appointed to represent him, and he remained in custody.
The Oak Knoll Market is just a few blocks away from where the boy was supposed to be when the incident occurred: a small high school on the site of the former King Estates Middle School.
Gina Hill, the principal of Youth Empowerment School, could not be reached Friday. A card left near the market and signed with her name expressed sadness and concern.
"I hope this card shows that we at Youth Empowerment School truly care about our community and the people in it," it said. "I want to apologize on behalf of our students who were involved in this tragedy. They made very bad choices and I know they are regretful."
Dong Suk Kang's funeral will be Saturday night in Castro Valley, where he used to live. Services will start at 7 p.m. at the Jess Spencer Mortuary, 21228 Redwood Road.