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TEENS TURN CRUSADER INTO VICTIM OF SLAYING

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He was a caring corner grocer, a Korean immigrant and church deacon who gave advice to neighborhood boys and organized an anti-crime petition drive.

Then Moon Hwang went from crusader to victim: Police say he was beaten to death behind his one-story brick store by a gang of teenagers out for money.They didn't know he carried none. Their take: two loaves of bread and a bag of bean sprouts.

Eighteen-year-old Richard Simons and six juveniles, all members of a gang that called itself the Black Gangsta Family, have been charged with murder, robbery and conspiracy in the Nov. 18 attack.

Prosecutor Jeffrey Blitz said Wednesday that he would seek to try the juveniles as adults.

Police said the assailants used a BB gun to shoot out a light that illuminated the gravel-and-dirt parking lot behind the store. When Hwang and his wife closed the store about 8 p.m. and headed to their car, police said, the youths attacked in the darkness.

Hwang's wife, Young, ran for help and escaped unhurt. Hwang, beaten over the head, died two days later. Police weren't sure what the murder weapon was.

Hwang, 54, had no money because he timed his deposits to avoid carrying cash at dangerous times, police said.

One of the juveniles also is charged with killing a 15-year-old girl less than a day later.

On Wednesday, Bolf's Market was still closedthe neon "Fresh Fruit, Produce" sign still lighted.

Neighbors in this working-class community of 16,000 people 5 miles west of Atlantic City fondly remembered a man who cared about his customers and stuck to his principles, refusing to sell cigarettes and condoms to minors.

"He would have father-and-son talks with the younger customers who came in," said Patrick Lee, a liquor store owner who met Hwang through the Korean Chamber of Commerce of Atlantic County, which Hwang founded.

"He cared about local children and how they acted," Lee said. "He'd say, `You shouldn't do this' and `You shouldn't do that.' "

Hwang cared about his fellow merchants, too. In October, he sent a letter and a petition with 55 signatures to the Atlantic City police chief listing four violent incidents, including the Oct. 15 killing of a convenience store worker in Atlantic City.