Close the business? 2 store owners killed at same location 7 years apart

Bloodied footprints that once marked where a southwest Atlanta grocer was stabbed and killed in 2010 have long faded.

But bloodshed in the area is hardly a distant memory.

The owner of Southern Grocery was shot and killed Sunday, and the shooter is still on the run, Atlanta police said.

Seven years ago, the owner of a similarly named grocery store at the corner of Westview Drive and Lawton Street was stabbed repeatedly during an apparent robbery attempt.

That incident prompted city officials to add a security system in the area last year.

And years earlier, the store was so frequently a target for break-ins that the owner spent the night outside in his van to make sure no one broke in, another business owner said.

Now, community members have had enough.

Atlanta City Councilmember Cleta Winslow, whose district includes the store, told Channel 2 Action News she would support a plan to close the business permanently.

She spoke to reporters a few days after a shooter killed 36-year-old store owner Saiful Bhuyia of Dunwoody in his car and critically injured his passenger, Rizanul Islam.

“Our investigators are following all leads,” Officer Stephanie Brown said Thursday.

So far, officers have learned that two men in another vehicle approached them, Brown said. One of the men shot into the victims’ car.

When officers arrived, they found Bhuyia dead in his seat and Islam in critical condition, Brown said.

On Thursday, police released a video of the incident, hoping someone will provide information that leads to an arrest.

In the video, a white vehicle approaches the victims’ car and two men jump out. It’s clear the victims tried to flee, but both were shot. Bhuyia died at the scene, police said, and Islam was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital.

A community vigil for Bhuyia was held Wednesday night.

At the vigil, community members cited the nearby M. Agnes Jones Elementary School as a reason safety should be more of a priority in the area, which is minutes away from the university center in southwest Atlanta.

Shawn Walton, a resident in the community, told Channel 2 no one would have wished death on Bhuyia and his family.

“They were standup people,” Walton said. “And they took a risk to be here, and we’re grateful for that risk they took.”

It’s a familiar refrain from community members. Many of them also described the previous store owner, Baik Sung, as a good person.

Margaret Doubt, a 40-year-old single mother of five who lived near the store seven years ago, said she couldn’t understand why anyone would want to kill the man affectionately known as “Paw Paw.”

Doubt said the man gave her credit one time when she was waiting for her paycheck.

“He always let me do it,” she said. “I always paid him back."

“He was such a good man.”

A native of South Korea, Sung had owned Southern Supermarket for more than 30 years when he was stabbed to death.

Officers responding to that incident found him lying just inside the door of the store and a cash register taken.

In June 2012, Oderrick Boone, 28, was sentenced to life plus 15 years for Sung’s murder. He had been caught on a surveillance camera.

Credit: John Spink

Credit: John Spink

Jon Park, secretary of the Georgia Korean Grocers Association, knew Sung.

“He worked hard, from sunrise to sunset,” he said. “He worked more than 12 hours a day. The only thing he knew was to work, work.”

Know what’s really going on with crime and public safety in your metro Atlanta community, including breaking news, trial coverage, trends and the latest on unsolved cases. Sign up for the AJC’s crime and safety newsletter delivered weekly to your inbox.

— Staff writers Ellen Eldridge and John Spink contributed to this article.