Fears of an investigation over millions of dollars of evaded tax may have driven Golden Krust founder Lowell Hawthorne to suicide.
The New York Post reports that a family member told detectives that the 57-year-old beef patty mogul had been “acting funny” in the hours before he took his life inside one of his factories.
The Jamaican immigrant started Golden Krust with a single fast-food eatery on East Gun Hill Road in the Bronx, New York City, and opened 16 more across the city before launching a franchise operation in 1996.
Hawthorne employed dozens of relatives at the business he started in 1989, and the Post’s source said he left a note in which he apologised to his family.
Hawthorne’s younger brother, Milton Hawthorne, 55, met cops who arrived at the Golden Krust plant at 3958 Park Avenue at around 5.15pm on Saturday in response to a 911 call about an emotionally disturbed person armed with a gun.
Lowell, a married father of three sons and a daughter, was found on the floor of his office with a single bullet wound to his head and a handgun lying nearby, the paper said.
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 company now has more than 120 outlets in nine states, and sells its beef patties in more than 20,000 supermarkets, as well as to the city school system, state penal system and US military, according to a news release issued last year.
Mourners gathered at Hawthorne’s home in Elmsford following his death.
During a brief news conference at the Golden Krust bakery, company spokesman and Hawthorne’s nephew Steven Clarke said widow Lorna Hawthorne was making funeral arrangements and it was unclear if there would be a public memorial service.
“Right now we’re still processing and trying to wrap our mind around this tragic loss,” he added.