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Fatherhood Cut Short by Violence

Brian Chin met with friends in Koreatown to celebrate his son's birth. Hours later, he was killed after trying to break up a fight.

July 29, 2006|K. Connie Kang | Times Staff Writer

The evening of July 14 was to have been a joyous one for Brian Chin, 27, and his buddies. Chin had become a new father nine days earlier, and they had met in a Koreatown bar to celebrate.

But, within hours, the celebration turned into a nightmare.

Chin was stabbed to death in the parking lot of trendy Chapman Plaza, at Alexandria Avenue and 6th Street, shortly before 2 a.m. on July 15. Earlier in the evening, Chin, a 6-footer with an athletic build, had tried to stop an altercation between a friend and a group of rowdy young Asians who had confronted them inside Blink, a popular nightclub at Brown Derby Plaza on Wilshire Boulevard.

"The sadness and pain I feel is indescribable," said Royce Chin, Brian's older brother, who lives in San Diego. "They stabbed Brian, in the back and front, more than 16 times. All I see when I close my eyes now is my brother being stabbed over and over again, and what his last thoughts may have been. Probably of his newborn son, and the family he would leave behind."

On Friday, Chin's family and many friends from throughout California gathered at International Christian Center Church in San Jose for a memorial service. Today, after a 9:30 a.m. funeral service at Lima Family Sunnyvale Mortuary in Sunnyvale, Chin will be buried next to his father -- the Rev. Won S. Chin, who died 10 weeks ago -- at Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Los Altos.

Authorities said about nine Asian males followed Chin's party after they left the bar. The assailants, all described as being between 19 and 23, sprayed mace to immobilize several of them, then attacked Chin with knives, police said.

The Los Angeles Police Department's Asian Gang Unit is investigating the case, but no one has been arrested. Police are asking for the public's help in solving the homicide.

The killing of Brian Chin has created considerable discussion in the state's large Korean American community and on the Internet, where his friends have posted e-mails and pleas for donations to help with funeral expenses. A graduate of Cal State Long Beach, Chin had worked for Hallmark Cards Inc. in San Jose for 11 months, one month shy of qualifying for life insurance, Royce Chin said.

Friends remember Brian, who moved to San Jose three years ago from Long Beach to help his mother care for his ailing father, as a loyal friend with a gentle heart.

Underneath his "big, tough-looking guy" exterior was a kind soul who never forgot people who had been kind to him, said Eugene Choi, a childhood friend.

Chin always went out of his way to help his friends, Choi said. He believes that's what happened when Chin intervened to break up a fight that fateful night.

Chin's demise is especially wrenching for his family and friends because he had seen his son for the first time only two days before he was stabbed. He and the mother were unmarried and lived apart, Chin in San Jose and she in Los Angeles.

On July 13, Chin, his mother, a younger brother and a sister drove from San Jose to see the baby and the mother. The couple planned to wed.

For a pastor's son, fathering a child outside of marriage had been difficult news to break. He didn't mention it until just two weeks before the baby was born, said his mother, Grace Chin.

"I was shocked, but I remained calm and told Brian, 'I congratulate you. I want to bless the baby as he is a gift from God,' " she recounted. "I also told him it happened in a wrong sequence, so I suggested that he marry the baby's mother."

She said she draws comfort from her faith that her husband and son are "with the Lord" and that they will all be reunited someday.

And she said she believes that in all things, God works for the good of those who love him and have been called according to his purpose. Already, she said, she has seen signs. "Brian's friends, who grew up in the church with him but had moved away from it, are returning and praying," Grace Chin said.

"Our compassion goes out to all who suffer as a result of this senseless killing," said the Rev. Charles G. Robertson Jr., pastor of Wilshire Presbyterian Church in Koreatown.

"We also appeal to the larger community to help change the circumstances that have led to Brian's death," said Robertson, who started the Wilshire Center/Koreatown Alcohol Abatement Coalition, a community group.

Chin's death underscores the need to ensure strict adherence to the conditions under which Koreatown's restaurants, nightclubs and karaoke clubs operate, he said, including providing adequate security to prevent violence.

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