February 26, 2010

Police: Fight victim was at a birthday party

DAVID HENCH

— By

20091221_Memorial
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20091221_Memorial

Gordon Chibroski

Staff Writer

PORTLAND — The man who was killed early Sunday outside a bar on Read Street attended a birthday party inside the private club before the fight that led to his death.

On Monday, Than Yim's friends and family paid respects at a memorial assembled alongside the parking lot of the club, Thanh Thanh Bida.

Red and white roses hung from the chain link fence and candles were clustered at the base of the wall, alongside a Seattle Sonics jersey and a black flat-brim cap emblazoned with a white ''C.''

Tucked into the fence was a photograph showing a young, handsome man wearing the blue gown of a graduating senior. Yim, who was 33, graduated from Portland High School in 1996.

Some relatives knelt at the shrine Monday and relit the candles, while an older woman wailed and stamped her feet. A relative described how Yim was picked up from the ground and carried to a car.

Yim was pronounced dead at Maine Medical Center shortly after he was driven to the hospital from the club. An autopsy was done Sunday, but police have not released the cause of death.

Police have not characterized the death, but investigators are being assisted by the Maine Attorney General's Office, which prosecutes most of the state's homicides.

Police were called to the area at 12:45 a.m. Sunday, when a person who was walking a dog nearby reported what sounded like shots being fired.

As police responded to that call, emergency dispatchers -- who handle both police and rescue calls -- got a call from a passenger in the car that was taking Yim to the hospital. Police suspect the two calls were related.

On Sunday, police gathered evidence from several locations in the club's parking lot.

The club is listed on its city license as a pool hall and karaoke bar with room for 49 customers. The nondescript building, in an industrial area just east of Forest Avenue, has a sign in a window saying the club is for members only.

The bar's owner declined comment Monday.

Police Capt. Ted Ross said investigators are making progress on the case.

''Some people appear to be cooperating and other people appear to be not so cooperative or forthright,'' he said.

Some reticence may be the result of fear, he said, so police have not released Yim's home address. ''We still don't have a complete picture of what took place,'' Ross said.

Police are asking that anyone with information contact detectives at 874-8524.

Staff Writer David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

dhench@pressherald.com

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