The daughter of a murdered grocer in the city's Lawncrest section testified yesterday that she and her father struggled with two gunmen inside their store and stripped away their assailants' masks before one of them fatally shot the 47-year-old victim.
At a preliminary hearing before Common Pleas Court Judge James DeLeon, Lu LiXia, 24, identified Darrin White, 19, and James Canady, 16, as the attackers. Both are charged with murder, robbery and related offenses, and DeLeon held both for trial.
Lu said she was in her family's apartment above the store on the morning of Aug. 9 when she heard her father, Lu Jiaxhing, make a moaning sound inside the store.
She said that when she went downstairs, Canady pointed a handgun between her eyes at arm's length.
"I grabbed whatever I could, like cans," Lu said. "I threw cans at him."
She said Canady dodged the missiles before dropping the gun on the floor and picking it up seconds later. She said he then hit her arm and pushed her to the floor.
"I got up and fought with him, and that's when I pulled off his mask," Lu said, adding that she recognized him because he had previously tried to rob the store.
She said that while she battled with Canady, her father fought with White at the counter. Meanwhile, Lu said, her mother came downstairs and helped her push Canady out the door.
Lu said she locked the door as her father continued to struggle with White and pulled off his mask. She unlocked the door again so that they could eject White, who "was screaming to the other robber [to] come and help him."
Canady wedged his leg in the doorway and fired through the opening, she said. Her father was hit twice, once in the left side of his abdomen and once in a shoulder.
"It's clear that the family basically stood up to these two people, who were there to rob them, and weren't going to take it," said Assistant District Attorney Michael Barry.
While Lu testified, her mother, Yu-Zeng, cradled in her arms a framed portrait of her slain husband. The woman's son, who declined to give his name, said she brought the portrait "so that his spirit would be in the courtroom."
While those family members appeared in court, a younger daughter, 20, stayed behind to run the store. She sat on a stool behind the counter, which had a protective plastic barrier, as a male relative wandered back and forth, from the rear of the store to the sidewalk outside.
He was watching over her and protecting her, said the Temple University sophomore, who did not want their names used.
"They're nice. They're sweet," Felicia Carter said of the family as she left the store. "They say 'hi,' they say 'bye.' "
Lu's death was "sad," said Carter, 22, who lives two blocks away. "He never disrespected anyone."
Shortly after the shooting, family members said they would close the shop, with an apartment upstairs, and move. When asked about that yesterday, the daughter said the family would stay - "for right now."