Autopsy: Currency Exchange Owner Shot in the Face

Kim Choi opened his business just months ago

By Kim Vatis and Anthony Ponce
|  Thursday, Dec 31, 2009  |  Updated 3:11 PM CDT
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Slain Man a "Dear, Sweet Friend"

The body of a northwest side currency exchange owner was found by police Thursday morning in the trunk of a parked car.

Assistant Pastor Describes Nearby Church Robberies

The block where a Currency Exchange owner was slain has seen a number of robberies in recent weeks. Assistant Pastor Ik Kim says Holy Name Presbyterian Church has been robbed twice within the last month.
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A currency exchange owner found dead in the trunk of his car this morning had been shot once in the face, according to the Cook County medical examiner's office.

The body of Brian Choi, 55, of the 200 block of Heather Lane in Wilmette, was found by police this morning near his place of business.

Choi owned the Foster Currency Exchange at 3443 W. Foster Ave. The death has been ruled a homicide. Police said no one is in custody as of Thursday afternoon.

Police were alerted that he was missing when family members called, worried because he hadn’t come home from work.

Police are uncertain whether Choi was shot inside his business, outside, or even in the vicinity, though they noted there was no evidence of a struggle inside the store.

Police are investigating whether the murder is related to a July 27 strong-armed robbery at Choi's business. Choi was in the process of taking legal action against the four young men charged in that crime, police say.

Residents of the neighborhood were shocked by the discovery.

"This changes my view of the neighborhood," said resident and customer Christopher Gornall. "The worst thing around here has been the graffitti."

Gornall said Choi didn't deserve this fate.

"He was very professional," Gornall said. "That's not the way a person should go."

Heather Lyons, one of Choi's customers, cried when she heard the news.

"I can't understand why anyone would do this to him. He never harmed anyone," she said. "He was always nice; a dear, sweet friend to me."

The block where Choi was slain has seen a number of robberies in recent weeks.

The assistant pastor for Holy Name Presbyterian Church, Ik Kim, said laptops, televisions and cash were stolen from the church during two separate robberies within the last month.  Police haven't said whether the incidents are related, but the robberies at the church have not been solved.

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