SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) – A 21-year-old San Jose man has been arrested in the murder of a liquor store owner who was gunned down while protecting his wife during a robbery.

San Jose police said Muniunmee Hendrix was taken into custody in Merced on Thursday. He was being held in Santa Clara County jail on homicide charges.

Hendrix was allegedly the gunman who fatally shot Hieu Ly during the armed robbery of Jim’s Liquor Mart on Monday night.

According to a family member, Ly’s wife was working the register when the robber walked in and demanded money. Hieu Ly, who was resting behind the counter, overheard what was happening and attempted to intervene before he was shot in the chest.

The robber then threatened to kill the owner’s wife when she tried to call 911 and fled the store empty-handed after he was unable to open the cash register.

Hieu Ly — who was the father of four — died at the scene. His wife was not physically hurt in the incident.

As news of Hieu’s death got out Tuesday, a steady stream of customers brought flowers, candles, and cards to pay their respects. They told stories of a kind, hard-working man.

“You know, you come here and see these people work hard to take care of their families and then something so senseless…” said longtime customer Maria Jimenez. “It’s just…for what? For money?!”

15-year-old customer Marcos Cruz remembers one time when he got to the register and didn’t have enough money.

“He was always nice,” said Cruz. “If you were low on change, ‘Next time, buddy. Come on.’ And it’s sad, I don’t know how to take it.”

Binh Cao, who owns the business next door, said Hieu fixed her electrical wiring, air conditioning and did other handyman work.

But Hieu also had a tough side. As a warning to shoplifting suspects, he hung their surveillance photos on the front door.

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