When Chris Lambrou got to work Monday at 6 a.m. and saw all the police cars, he said, “Right away, I think it’s at 7-Eleven. It may be some problem to my friend.”
He knew that his friend, 60-year-old Sun Ku Kwon, always worked the night shift and unfortunately Lambrou’s intuition was correct. Kwon had been stabbed just an hour before. He was flown by helicopter to Inova Fairfax Hospital, where he later died.
As long as Lambrou could remember — at least 20 years — Kwon worked at the 7-Eleven store on Mount Vernon Memorial Highway right next door to Lambrou’s place, Woodlawn Auto Center, Inc.
“I knew him very well. We’ve been friends for a long time. He was a nice guy, I always fixed his car,” said Lambrou, showing a stack of unpaid bills totaling over $1,700. Lambrou didn’t worry about the money; he knew his friend would pay it when he could. They had worked it out before so Kwon gave him $50 to $100 a month until it was paid off.
This time, Kwon would not have an opportunity to pay back Lambrou. His 1990 Honda Civic LX sits in the parking lot at 7-Eleven in the same spot where he parked it the night before he was killed.
ACCORDING TO A POLICE REPORT issued shortly thereafter, patrol officers were able to locate the suspect in a nearby area. A 14-year-old Fort Belvoir area youth was
found a short while later near Cooper Center in the 8400 block of Richmond Highway. He was interviewed by detectives and then taken into custody and transported to the Fairfax County Juvenile Detention Center where a juvenile petition for homicide was issued for him.
Lt. Bruce Guth said that a preliminary hearing will be held on Jan. 21, at which point the courts will decide if there is probable cause to try him as an adult.
Rick Arndt, PIO for Fort Belvoir, said that the boy’s parents live on Fort Belvoir; the father is military, but the mother is not. Arndt was not able to release names or comment any further.
Guth led a grid search Wednesday looking for additional evidence. Using dogs, metal detectors and about two dozen officers, the group planned to search a mile and a half radius between the 7-Eleven and the place where the youth had been found.
“We want to have as complete a case as possible. We have reason to believe that there is other evidence,” said Bud Walker, Farifax police public information officer.
Officers headed through the woods surrounding the Aquinas Montessori School.
“We will be eyeballing the area. We brought in extra personnel—these officers are experienced and know what they are looking for,” said Guth, who could not comment on what pieces of evidence they were looking for.
Guth also said that they are still trying to locate next of kin for Kwon; all of his family is believed to be in Korea and they are working with the Korean Embassy to try to locate them. In the meantime, the officers are working with Korean churches to set up a service for Kwon. He has no known family in the country, but Guth said, “We have received so many calls asking about him—that’s how well liked he was.”
Walker said that they are also following up on the lead that the 14-year-old may have been involved in a break-in at Fort Belvoir earlier in the morning before he reached 7-Eleven. Walker said that they believe he may be involved and are working with special agents from Fort Belvoir’s Criminal Investigation Command (CID).
Walker lives in Mount Vernon, and said, “There’s never a good reason for homicide, but this is particularly hard, coming during the holidays — the pregnant woman and now this.”
CAPTAIN LARRY MOSER, Commander Mount Vernon District Station, said, “We were able to make an apprehension in this matter because of hard work by the personnel involved and great cooperation from the community. In this instance, the officer who works the area stops by the business frequently. Like many of our officers, he knew the clerk well.
“As you know 24-hour establishments are not that abundant and the officers stop by to check on things, use the phone, restroom or to grab a cup of coffee. Our quick arrival aided in this matter.
The ongoing partnership between the Mount Vernon police station and Fort Belvior also helped in this case, Moser said.
Attique Zahid was working next door at the Exxon station, but didn’t know anything had happened until he saw all the police cars and ambulance. Police also brought in helicopters to search the area.
“I didn’t see anything,” said Zahid, who was questioned by police. He said that the police checked the service station’s camera monitors but the boy had not been in the station. The police also took trash from behind the station.
“He was a very nice guy—always smiling, very cooperative. It’s very sad,” Zahid said.
“This case is a good reminder to all of us. Clerks have a tough, often underappreciated and certainly a dangerous job,” Moser said.