Murder can be so petty. The day after April Fools Day, 2011, a shopkeeper on Fisherman’s Wharf named Hong Ri Wu couldn’t stand it any longer. He went to the store next door and shot to death two other shopkeepers, Qiong Han Chu and Fen Ping Ou. He and she. Both 30. Why? Because they were selling the very same chachkas, purses and souvenirs as Wu, and for less.
The margins on Fisherman’s Wharf are always thin.
Wu was also angry because he felt that people walking along the sidewalk couldn’t see his store because it was hidden by Chu and Ou’s store. So finally he cleared away the obstacles, he improved the view. On June 11, 2014, Wu was sentenced to 75 years, and LWOPed. He’s 56.
In a press release, District Attorney George Gascón was quoted to say: “The sentence reflects the senseless nature of this man’s crimes. He was willing to take life over something so petty. I hope today’s sentence brings some peace to the victims’ families and the merchants at Fisherman’s Wharf.”
It won’t bring much peace to the victims’ families. It never does. They will still pin all their pain and calamities on him. ‘His life is all taken care of’, they’ll say to each other. ‘He gets three meals a day. He doesn’t have to worry about his family or making the business work.’
There’s one other detail in the case. A few months after Wu’s arrest a psychologist found him incompetent to stand trial. And not long after that he went on a hunger strike and eventually was taken to SF General. The doctors refused to intervene, because they said his mind was sound. So which was he?
Wu finally gave up his hunger strike.
Eventually, the judge dismissed the theory of incompetence.
Maybe you can see Wu’s true identity in his mug shot. One eye is the eye of cold reason. ‘I am what I am,’ it says. The other eye is old and defensive, ‘I don’t care what you think of me; I hate you as much as you hate me.’