DETROIT (WWJ) – Police are investigating the murder of a beloved southwest Detroit business owner.
Detroit Police Assistant Chief Steve Dolunt says the owner of the Detroit Coney Island, on Schaefer near Fort St., was fatally shot during an attempted robbery Thursday morning.
The victim, Franco Juncaj, who was “extremely well-liked” in the community, was shot one time in the chest with a semi-automatic weapon, according to Dolunt, and died inside the coney island shortly after.
Dolunt called it a “senseless loss of life.”
“The reason this is so disturbing is that the community is out here; they’re out here crying,” he told WWJ’s Vickie Thomas and other reporters. “He’s been here for 36 years. He’s not a gang banger, not a dope guy, he’s not a hood. He’s an Albanian immigrant who came here and worked his butt off and stayed in the community.”
Dolunt said he believes this is a case of an attempted robbery gone wrong.
“He had bulletproof glass…but he was one of those kind of guys — everyone knew him and he knew them. He would step out and take your order as opposed to standing behind the glass; and his family always told him you should keep the door shut, but he’s old school.”
Juncaj is believed to have been shot between 8:30 a.m. and 9:20 a.m. Thursday. Police say nothing appeared to be taken from the restaurant and cash still was in the register.
Among those gathered at the scene was Tajuana McGee who said he mother worked at Detroit Coney Island for many years. McGee considered the victim, identified only as “Frank,” part of her family.
“Frank’s a good guy; we know him, we love him,” McGee said. “My cousin just ordered a breakfast from the man at 7:27 this morning, picked it up on her way to work. She’s calling me like, ‘I just got a breakfast from this guy — he’s dead?'”
She said the whole community is devastated.
“This is a community coney island; they leave the door open,” McGee said. “If you ain’t got enough money you still get your food, you know? You see all these people out here? Everybody’s out here because they’re hurt, because Frank was a good guy, flat out.”
A homicide investigation is underway. There have been no arrests.
Dolunt said police believe there was a lull in business at the time the shooting occurred and that there may not have been anyone else inside the restaurant. They’re looking for any witnesses.