A well-known New York businessman reportedly committed suicide inside of his Bronx factory Saturday.
According to the New York Daily News, 57-year-old Lowell Hawthorne was found dead inside of the Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery & Grill building on Park Avenue shortly after 5:30 p.m.
Current and former employees showed up at the business later that night to remember Hawthorne, who was the company’s founder and CEO.
Pete Tee, who formerly worked for Golden Krust, described the Jamaican native as “a good boss, humble and a good businessman.”
The one-time employee went on to say his former boss never seemed unhappy, expressing shock over the news of his reported death from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Chef’s Choice CEO Pat Russo, who told the Daily News he has worked with Hawthorne for the past two decades, was similarly caught off guard.
“It doesn’t make any sense,” he said. “He had everything to live for. He was a brilliant business guy — the perfect American success story.”
Authorities were first notified of a possible disturbance at the factory after some employees saw his Tesla parked unusually in the parking lot with the vehicle left partially blocking a traffic lane.
Hawthorne had frequently been celebrated for his success, having built his fast-food company into a chain with more than 120 stores across nine states. In addition to the franchise locations, Golden Krust also ships hamburger patties and other products to retailers nationwide.
The CEO and his company was also featured in an episode of the CBS reality series “Undercover Boss” that aired last year.
In addition to friends and colleagues in New York, Hawthorne’s family received condolences from Jamaican officials including Prime Minister Andrew Holness.
My condolences to the friends, family and employees of Jamaica-born Lowell Hawthorne, CEO of Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery & Grill.
He headed the largest Caribbean franchise chain in the US, with more than 120 stores. pic.twitter.com/PX9MpD2Mkg
— Andrew Holness (@AndrewHolnessJM) December 3, 2017
The Jamaica Observer also reported on his death, noting he had previously won the newspaper’s Business Leader Award.
Hawthorne left Jamaica for the U.S. in 1981 after other family members made the trip in hopes of finding prosperity. One family friend explained that he found and acted on the opportunities he sought.
“Look how far he reached,” Wayne Muschamb said. “He’s known from here to Jamaica.”
Below is the episode of “Undercover Boss” featuring Hawthorne and his company.
[Featured image: Lowell Hawthorne/video screenshot]