Family and friends gathered Monday night in Mount Vernon for the wake of Golden Krust Bakery and Grill co-founder and CEO Lowell Hawthorne.
"It's tough, but we are consoling each other and we are doing what family does for family," said Steven Clarke, Hawthorne's nephew. "We're supporting each other, and there have been tears, everything you could think of, but we are strong for each other."
A line of mourners spilled out of Grace Baptist Church, where the viewing was held.
The 57-year-old was found dead inside his company's Bronx headquarters on Dec. 2, according to police. Police said he shot himself in the head.
It is unclear what lead to Hawthorne's death, but he was being sued for wage theft, after employees accused him of withholding overtime pay. Authorities said he also failed to pay some of his employees the minimum wage.
Hawthorne's death sent shockwaves through the Caribbean community at-large. People at his wake praised Hawthorne as a trailblazing businessman who turned a storefront family business into an empire with over 120 franchises.
"We are only human. Nobody is perfect," said one person who attended the wake. "Things do happen, and at the end of the day the good outweighs the bad."
"I'm a Golden Krust driver, so he did very good for the community. He took care of his workers and all of that good stuff," one mourner said. "He a very good man. He's a hero to me."
Hawthorne's funeral is scheduled for Tuesday.