A Harlem grocery store manager was shot and killed by a customer early Saturday in an argument over $1 worth of ham, police and family members said.

Police identified the victim as Juan Peralta, 28, who relatives say was the father of three young children and manager of the Infante Grocery for three years.According to Theodore Rosa, 23, a nephew of the victim and son of store owner Fransico Infante, his uncle was working with another employee about 3 a.m. when the gunman and a woman came into the store to purchase $1 worth of ham.

"The guy says to him, `That's not a dollar's worth,' " said Rosa. "And my uncle says, `That's all I can give you for a dollar. It's $3.49 a pound.' Then the guy called him outside."

Rosa said his uncle armed himself with a bat when he went to confront the irate customer and was shot once in the chest. He said his uncle still struggled to swing the bat against his attacker and managed to hit the woman.

Perta died at St. Luke's Hospital about 45 minutes later, police said.

There were no immediate arrests made in the case.

"He was a nice guy, a hard-working man," Rosa said. "He worked seven days a week to support his wife and kids."

Rosa said his uncle was a native of the Dominican Republic but had emigrated to the United States at least 10 years ago.

The nephew said his uncle never worried about working late at night in the neighborhood, or about becoming a crime victim.