Victim in Fisherman's Wharf killing was new mother; husband asks 'why?' 

One of the two Fisherman’s Wharf merchants who were shot dead in their store on Sunday in an apparent rivalry spat with another vendor was the mother of a 2-month-old child, her grieving husband said only moments after he saw the suspected killer in court on Friday.

A sobbing King Wai Chan said his life has been shattered by the horrific murder of his wife, 30-year-old Feng Ping Ou.

“Why?” Chan said, repeating the question twice. “I don’t know how to handle it. I feel real sorry for my children.”

Police said 56-year-old merchant Hong Ri Wu walked into his next-door rival’s shop at 269 Jefferson St. and shot and killed Ping Ou and Qiong Han Chu, 30.

A vendor in the area said the suspect and victims argued daily. The rivaling merchants sold similar knockoff scarves and purses, the vendor said.

The suspected killer was arrested at the scene. On Friday, a disheveled Wu, his hair graying and uncombed, appeared in court to be arraigned. The arraignment was postponed until Monday. He had been scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday, but could not show up for court after being placed on psychiatric hold at a hospital, according to the Public Defender’s Office.

Through an interpreter, he told the judge that he cannot afford an attorney. The public defender was assigned his case.

Family and friends of the slain merchants packed into the courtroom. They remained quiet, but their eyes followed Ri Wu’s every move. One woman’s eyes watered as she stared angrily at the suspected killer.

Friends expressed sorrow that a new mother was murdered, and that it occurred during Chinese New Year. Family members had to postpone the funeral for Ping Ou, as the major Chinese holiday closed the government institutions that could provide a visa for her sister to travel to the U.S.

According to the vendor, Wu was apparently angry that the victims set up shop in front of their store in a way that blocked the view from the sidewalk of his shop.

“They were arguing every morning, saying, ‘You block my view,’ stuff like that,” said Carmen, a merchant who works at a store just around the corner from the crime scene.

Carmen declined to provide her last name.

Wu was booked into San Francisco County Jail on Monday morning on two counts of murder, according to the Sheriff’s Department.

Shots rang out around 8:20 p.m. on Sunday, while the sidewalks were packed with shoppers and tourists, police said.

Maurice Tsuts, who works at a camera shop about half a block away at Jefferson and Jones streets, said he heard the gunshots but thought it was children throwing poppers on the ground.

He said there is often tension between business owners in the neighborhood because so many Fisherman’s Wharf stores sell similar goods.

“There’s stiff competition around here,” he said.

Still, many shopkeepers were shocked that such competition could lead to a killing.

The suspected shooter was described by some in the area as a kind, quiet and humble man.

Benjamin Bouskila, the owner of Firenze Fine Arts at 235 Jefferson St., said he walked past Ri Wu almost every day and could never imagine he’d have the capacity to kill.

“He’s not the kind of person you would expect to take an action like that,” Bouskila said.

The victims were also described as “very nice” people. Frank Faiz, who works for Bouskila, said Chu “always had a smile on his face.”

“Every time you’d see him in the morning, he waves and says ‘good morning,’” Faiz said.

maldax@sfexaminer.com

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