By Heidi Zemach for SCN –
Mimi and John Park, who run Peking Restaurant on Fourth Avenue were brutally assaulted by a strange young man who walked into their restaurant Monday September 1st . Battered and bruised, they opened the restaurant the very next day.
Shocked customers and friends brought flowers, cards, and words of sympathy Wednesday afternoon to the couple and came to offer their sincere sympathy to the couple who is known for feeding and caring for generations of local children, almost as if they were their own.
Roger Dwain Waters Junior, 26, whose hometown is unknown, was arrested soon after the Parks showed up at the Seward Police Department at 5: 51 p.m. to report the attack, and pointed him out to the police. He also was charged with assaulting correctional officer Steve DeLand, as he attempted to remove him from the police car, and for threatening and scaring a 14-year old juvenile who happened on the scene.
Mimi Park (Hye Suk Park) told SCN she was seated in the chair opposite the door when a young man she didn’t know came in Monday afternoon. Park said, “Hi,” and rose when he immediately punched her in the eye with his fist, and continued punching her in the face until he knocked her to the ground. He then continued kicking and stomping on her body. Park’s face and arms are still badly bruised, and she’s badly shaken. She said the entire thing was terribly frightening. Her husband John (Sung Koon Park) soon came out from the back of the restaurant and received the same treatment from Waters. Their customers fled out the back door. John Pack’s face, neck and back, where he was kicked are also bruised, and two of his teeth are loose after being punched in the mouth.
The Parks managed to break free of Waters and flee to the safety of their vehicle, which was parked outside the building, according to arresting officer Jamie Rouleau, in his written testimony to the court. Waters then followed them outside and banged on their vehicle window, yelling at them until the Parks drove off. They went to the police department, and to the Seward Providence ER, and once they had told their story, they spotted their assailant walking on the road nearby, and pointed him out to police as the man who had assaulted them.
Officer Rouleau confronted Waters, who threatened to kill him if he came near. But the officer eventually managed to gain control of him, handcuff him, and place him in a patrol vehicle. When he and Correctional Sgt Deland attempted to remove Waters from the back of the patrol vehicle to book him at the Seward Community Jail, however, Waters allegedly resisted, and kicked Deland hard in the face. Rouleau saw several minor fresh cuts on Waters’ fingers and knuckles from the earlier assaults.
Later, at 6:55 p.m., a 14-year old juvenile told Seward police she’d been walking on 4th Avenue across the street from the Peking when she saw Waters at the Park’s vehicle. She said he yelled across the street that he was going to kill her. She was very scared and ran to a friend’s house, where she was told to call the police.
Waters has a long police record that includes 13 prior offenses, mostly theft-related, but also including one assault and two prior felony convictions, according to court documents. He was originally charged with two counts of Assault in the Second Degree and two counts of Assault in the Fourth degree for Monday’s offenses, but the more serious criminal charges were reduced Wednesday to four Assault in the Fourth Degree misdemeanor charges by the District Attorney’s office. Waters also was offered bail for $20,000 if he could be released to a third party custodian.
The wall behind the cash register at Peking is covered with the photographs of local children whom the Parks have cared for over the years. Customers told how they bring out sippy cups for the babies, and hold and entertain them so their parents can eat. When their children were cold and hungry from being outdoors, they’d come to the Peking to warm up with some hot soup from Mimi, free of charge.
“Mimi’s always taken care of us. She hand fed my son when he was a baby so that we could eat. My nephews all know them by name and it’s just an incredible shame that somebody would come in here and do that to them,” said customer Theresa Waldron. “I just think they’re the last people that anyone would want to harm.”
Luther Kuller would come up to the Peking when he got hungry after playing at the skate park. Mimi’s almost like a mother to him and lots of other local youngsters, he said.
“It just breaks my heart that somebody would do this to them. I’m sure that the whole community will be upset when they find out. It just makes me sick that someone would do this to John and Mimi,” said Rhonda Spurr. “They’re really good people.”
Waters is currently imprisoned at Wildwood Correctional Complex in Kenai. A pre-trail hearing is set in Third Judicial Court District in Seward October 27th at 1:15 p.m.