Freaky Flint History with Joe Schipani - Chinese Restaurant February 28th, 1931 #freakyflinthistory

Flint is well known for its modern violent crimes but Flint's history is filled with little known stories that read stranger than fiction. Gruesome murders, weird accidents, and violent deaths. Join us every Thursday as Joe Schipani details some of the odd but true deaths he found in Flint's archives.

Chinese Restaurant February 28th, 1931

On February 28, 1931this crime took place in a Chinese Restaurant called Arbutus Inn on North Saginaw Street. The owner, Jim Keyes, was having an argument with his business partner Lum Lee. Business was slow and Jim complained that he could barely afford to pay his employees.

Lum Lee grew furious. He had invested a lot of money in the restaurant and wanted to be paid back. Jim had borrowed several hundred dollars from Lum with the promise to pay him back at the end of each month. Lum was done with excuses and demanded a return on his investment.

As the argument grew more heated, a waitress named Anna asked the two men if they could take their conversation into the kitchen because they were making the customers uncomfortable. The two men agreed and walked into the kitchen.

Anna could still hear them.

Lum demanded his money while Jim argued that all he had was the money needed to pay the waitress that came in at six. The next thing Anna heard was the two men screaming at each other in Chinese. She stepped into the kitchen to try to neutralize the argument. She saw Lum put his hand in his pocket and then heard a loud bang. Lum had shot Jim through the stomach. He wiped his hands on a towel and then walked out of the restaurant. He never took the gun out of his pocket.

Anna realized that Jim was bleeding really bad so she ran out of the restaurant to get the police. She ran about four blocks before spotting a police officer. She signaled him, he picked her up, and the two went back to the restaurant. When they arrived Jim was unconscious and barely alive. The police officer summoned an ambulance to take Jim to Hurley hospital where he died an hour later.

The police searched for Lum Lee and found him walking the streets of downtown Flint. Lum did not resist arrest and confessed to the shooting. He claimed in court that it was self-defense and that Jim Keyes threatened to rob him because he would not loan him anymore money.

The first judge did not buy the story and convicted Lum Lee of murder in the first degree. Lum Lee appealed the ruling and got another hearing in front of another judge a few months later.  The second judge only half way believed him since Lum Lee did have multiple statements signed by Jim Keyes stating that he owed Lum hundreds of dollars. Lum’s conviction was changed to second degree manslaughter with a sentence of seven to ten years in prison. 

~ Joe Schipani is the Executive Director of the Flint Public Art Project and the FFAR Project Assistant at the Community Foundation of Greater Flint.  Find him on Facebook at 

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