‘Hole in our hearts’: Choi family thankful after arrest in slaying

Crime

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The family of a murdered man thanked Portland police for finding his suspected killer.

A man who lived in the same apartment complex was arrested for allegedly stabbing Matthew Choi to death in Southeast Portland on October 25.

Choi’s brother, Peter, told KOIN 6 News the family was shocked when they learned about the stabbing. Peter remembers his younger brother as a caring friend and family member who loved Portland and the community.

Matthew Choi, along with his mother, founded Choi’s Kimchi Co. in 2011. (Courtesy of Choi Family)

Choi, with his mother, owned Choi’s Kimchi Co. The pair started the company in 2011 after taking some of their kimchi to the Portland Farmer’s Market. Their kimchi is now sold in several stores.

“I was amazed to see his growth. I guess I couldn’t be any more proud to see who had had become,” Peter said. “As an older brother, I always knew the type of person he was but after all this happened to see the kind of impact he had on the community, and the outpouring — I was blown away.”

We sincerely want to thank the Portland Police and supporting agencies for their diligent efforts in capturing this suspect. Though it will never fill the hole in our hearts and in this community, we do pray for justice and peace that transcends all understanding. We have been so moved by the love and support, please know that words cannot express how thankful we are for the memories and stories that have been shared with us. We will never understand why this happened, but still believe there is good in this world and you are all examples of that. This tragedy will not define us, but instead inspire us to live to the fullest and never take each day for granted.

-The Choi Family

Allen Coe was arrested by the US Marshal’s Fugitive Taskforce on November 18, Portland police said in a release. The 30-year-old was identified as the suspect in the attack that killed Choi, who had been celebrating his birthday just hours earlier.

Choi and his girlfriend and friends had gathered at his apartment to celebrate and when the party ended, Choi fell asleep on the couch and his girlfriend went to the bedroom, according to court documents. She reported hearing the front door of the apartment close around 2 a.m. and when she went out to check, she saw a figure dart from the front door entry toward the bathroom. She reportedly woke Choi up and Choi went to the bathroom to investigate. His girlfriend heard thudding noises coming from near the bathroom and called out that she was calling the police, according to court documents.

Coe then allegedly went into the bedroom and tried to stab Choi’s girlfriend but Choi came in, grabbed Coe and pulled him away, court document say. Both men reportedly fell to the ground and Coe left the apartment. Choi’s girlfriend then saw he’d been stabbed multiple times. He later died at a hospital.

Investigators found a backpack outside Choi’s apartment containing two social security cards and a sticky note with the names and dates of birth for the two card holders, according to court documents. The card holders lived in the same apartment complex as Choi and had reported their social security cards being stolen in an October burglary. Surveillance video reportedly shows Coe wearing the same backpack hours before the homicide.

Detectives learned Coe lived at the same complex. When authorities talked to Coe about the homicide, Coe reportedly spit on the ground and detectives collected the sample for DNA testing. Investigators are now working to identify a mix of DNA taken from Choi’s hands during an autopsy.

Allen Coe, November 18, 2020 (Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office)

The apartment building has a secure entrance. Several of Choi’s neighbors told KOIN 6 News the violent attack left them feeling afraid and less safe. One man who lives in the building said he installed an extra lock on his door and added security cameras.

Coe has been charged with one count of first-degree murder, one count of first-degree attempted murder, two counts of first-degree burglary and two counts of identity theft. He pleaded not guilty.

Coe is scheduled to appear in court again on Nov. 30.

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