By Nathan Duke
Christopher James, who lived on Thatford Avenue in Brooklyn, entered the supermarket, which is located at 47-05 Metropolitan Ave. in Ridgewood, just before 9:30 a.m. Friday and told store employees that a person he did not recognize had shot him near the store, police said. James was taken to Elmhurst General Hospital and listed in stable condition, police said.But James was pronounced dead at the hospital around 8 p.m. Friday evening and law enforcement officials reclassified the shooting as a homicide, police said. No arrests have been made in the shooting and the investigation is ongoing, police said.The city medical examiner's office said James died from a gunshot wound to the torso.An employee at the supermarket said police shut down the Western Beef plaza on Metropolitan Avenue, which houses the supermarket, the company's headquarters and a meat packing and slaughtering plant, for several hours after the incident to make sure no one left the site. The employee also said that James had not worked at the supermarket.A spokeswoman for Western Beef said the company would not comment on the incident.The fatal shooting was the third homicide of 2006 in the 104th Precinct, which covers Ridgewood, Glendale, Middle Village and Maspeth, according to precinct statistics. In 2005, the precinct reported only two homicides. The number of murders in the precinct has dropped 40 percent in the past five years and more than 80 percent in the past 13 years, according to precinct statistics.In 2005, the precinct was listed as one of the safest in the city.Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.