Popular barber identified as victim of Lakewood homicide

People leave flowers, candles, and notes outside J’s Barber Shop

Customers and residents of Lakewood are visiting J's Barber Shop to pay respects to the owner of the shop who was killed during a crime spree yesterday.
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Customers and residents of Lakewood are visiting J's Barber Shop to pay respects to the owner of the shop who was killed during a crime spree yesterday.

Pyong Sun Ryan, the owner of J’s Barber Shop in Lakewood, always gave the best haircuts.

“I could depend on her,” Randy, a local resident and customer, said. “She gave me the best haircut and beard trim. After she cut my hair she’d go, ‘Oh, you’re a handsome man!’”

On Thursday afternoon, Lakewood police found the 57-year-old DuPont woman dead in her shop. The Pierce County Medical Examiner said she died of multiple blunt force injuries and ruled the death a homicide.

Two suspects, a 31-year-old man and a 38-year-old woman have been arrested.

Customers, friends and nearby shop owners expressed shock and anger at the death of Ryan, who was known as “Sunny” by those close to her.

Won Kim, an 11-year employee of American Lake Market, a store in the same block as Ryan’s, recounted her kindness and generosity.

“She was a really nice lady,” the 35-year-old Parkland resident said. “She would make homemade beef jerky and share them with me and the customers.”

Kim said Ryan would give deals on haircuts to loyal customers. She was known for ending each haircut with a relaxing massage.

“It’s the only place I go for a haircut,” Kim said. “Me, my brother, and my cousin all go there. I can’t believe that happened to her. I was going there for a haircut yesterday.”

The pavement outside the front door of the barber shop is decorated with candles, flowers, and handwritten messages, expressing love for Ryan and shock at her death.

Esther Parinas, 57, came to place flowers at the site.

Parinas said she and Ryan attended Tacoma First Baptist Church on 84th Street together and had known each other for more than a decade.

“She was always so, so kind,” Parinas said. “She had a very sweet and tender heart (and) a good relationship with all the church members.”

Participation in her church community was a large part of Ryan’s life, Julia Dobbins, an employee of the Arcoiris Mexican Restaurant across the street from Ryan’s store, said.

“The only day she was off she would go to church,” Dobbins said.

Dobbins added that she and Ryan shared a love of plants and that Ryan carefully tended to the ones she had.

Ryan would come to order food from Dobbins’ restaurant, and she said that she had hoped to invite Ryan over for dinner.

Dobbins added that Ryan had recently returned from a trip to South Korea to visit family.

Local residents expressed their sadness at Ryan’s death.

“She was very loving, very caring,” Laurie Landon said.

Ryan was especially kind to the children who visited her shop, Landon continued. One of Landon’s friends regularly brought her 4-year-old son to get his hair cut at the store.

“She was so sweet to him and always gave him a lollipop,” she said.

Parinas said Ryan’s death has deeply impacted her church’s community.

“Everybody’s shocked,” she said.

According to Lakewood police, Ryan’s death came amid a crime spree where people had to defend themselves with a gun and a golf club.

At 11:53 a.m. on Thursday, Lakewood police received a call reporting an attempted car theft in the 9100 block of Highland Avenue Southwest. Police said the suspect had said he needed to use the car to take his girlfriend to a hospital.

The suspect threw cans at the 76-year-old car owner, who defended himself with a golf club. He also allegedly tried to assault the car owner with an air compressor.

The suspect and a woman left on foot.

Two minutes later, police received another call about a man and a woman potentially fighting, around Highland Avenue Southwest and Alameda Avenue Southwest.

Police received another call six minutes later reporting a possible burglary at a house in the 8700 block of Highland Avenue Southwest.

One of the residents said that someone was in their garage and had gone towards them with a machete-like knife. A victim with a pistol got the suspect to leave.

The suspects in all three situations fit the same description, according to the police.

An officer saw the male suspect inside a truck in the 12500 block of Naomilawn Drive Southwest at 12:14 p.m., and would not leave the car.

He had a machete-style knife and held it to his neck a few times, according to police.

The suspect and the police negotiated for about half an hour, and he finally surrendered and was arrested. The female suspect was also arrested close by.

While these incidents took place, police received a call reporting that Ryan was at the barber shop and unresponsive. Fire personnel pronounced her dead at the scene.