Store owner stabbed to death in southwest Atlanta

A southwest Atlanta store owner described by customers and neighbors as a foundation of the community was stabbed to death Thursday morning inside the small supermarket he had run for more than 30 years.

Atlanta police Major Keith Meadows told the AJC that the victim was stabbed repeatedly during an apparent robbery attempt at the Southern Supermarket at the corner of Westview Drive and Lawton Street.

Officers responding to the 8 a.m. incident found the victim lying just inside the door of the store.

A cash register was taken from the store, Atlanta police Officer Otis Redmond said.

He said detectives were checking to see if the store had security cameras, and were questioning a couple of witnesses "who might have seen the actual attack."

He said investigators had not ruled out the possibility that the perpetrator might have been injured in the incident.

At least one suspect entered the store, and Meadows said there was possibly another person waiting outside in a getaway vehicle that has only been described as a dark-colored Oldsmobile.

Jon Park, secretary of the Georgia Korean Grocers Association, identified the slain store owner as Baik Sung, but in the neighborhood, he was known as “Paw Paw.”

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

Neighbor Harriett Gray said Sung had operated the small store for at least 30 years.

“Without Paw Paw, the community is nothing, because he feeds us,” Gray said.

“People come down here and get a loaf of bread on credit,” she said. “Milk, eggs, whatever you want, you can get from Mr. Paw Paw. And for them to do him like this is sad. ”

“Paw Paw was a good person -- he was real good,” said Brittany Swain, who also lives nearby. “He smiled every day and came outside and joked.”

Crime Stoppers Atlanta is offering a $5,000 reward for a tip leading to an arrest. Tipsters can remain anonymous. Call 404-577-TIPS.

--Staff writer Kristi E. Swartz contributed to this report.