Arson victim honoured at vigil
Osborne Village shop owner remembered for always going 'above and beyond'
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 19/08/2021 (407 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
People came from nearby apartments, townhouses and condos, slowly at first, until more than 60 were in front of the Scott Street convenience shop whose walls were black with soot and windows boarded up.
The mourners gathered to honour 60-year-old Jung Ja Shin, who was pulled from the apartment on the second-storey of the Osborne Village shop as it burned Sunday night. She died in hospital — the victim of an arsonist, who remains at large.
She and her son owned the shop: 30-year-old Jason Shin managed to escape.
Megan Ross, 28, who lives nearby often popped into the store. She and another regular organized the vigil Thursday night, which began and ended in front of the store after a walk around Osborne Village.
“You don’t see this a lot, and it’s sad you don’t see this a lot, but this woman deserves everything… all the love and support,” Ross told the Free Press.
“I just wish she was still here.”
Bouquets of flowers adorned the front steps; messages of support and love were scrawled across the plywood covering the door.
Patricia, a nearby resident, hunched over her walker and looked up at the messages on the door, remarking: “My gosh, a lot of people.”
Shin was remembered as a pillar of the community.
“She was so, so, so nice. I have never met anyone in customer service like her. She went above and beyond for every customer that walked in,” Ross said.
Kathy Rands, 66, who lives on Scott Street, phoned 911 Sunday night after she saw the flames while smoking a cigarette.
“Unfortunately, they didn’t get here soon enough,” Rands said of first responders.
Rands went to the corner shop all the time.
“I was always over there. It was like home, everybody coming in — ‘Hi, how you doing, hey!’… Everybody knew her. They would come out for the old ladies who couldn’t come in because they couldn’t get up the stairs. They’d come out and help everybody,” Rands said.
Homicide by arson is rare. Statistics Canada data show that in the past five years, there have been 2,233 arsons in Winnipeg — an average of 446 per year. The police clearance rate for arsons is low: 10.5 per cent from 2016 to 2020.
In this case, police have released surveillance footage of the fire-starter.
Several images and surveillance video show the suspect attempting to set one of four fires Sunday night. Police describe the arsonist as a white man, 5-10 with an athletic build, short light hair or a shaved head. He was wearing a blue Adidas baseball hat, a black T-shirt and shorts, black sneakers and a black face mask.
A girl in a floral dress cried as she placed a bouquet on the steps of the store before the vigil began.
As Ross ended her short speech to the mourners and the television cameras and reporters crowded into the street before the walk began, she asked for people to come back to the E-mart.
“Linger,” Ross said. “And talk to your neighbours.”
Erik Pindera reports for the city desk, with a particular focus on crime and justice.
Updated on Friday, August 20, 2021 6:52 AM CDT: Adds photo tags