On December 2nd, news broke that Golden Krust CEO, Lowell Hawthorne committed suicide at his company’s factory in the Bronx. Hawthorne, a Jamaican immigrant founded the restaurant franchise in 1989 alongside his wife and siblings. By 2017, the company grew to have 120 locations in nine states.

What Employees Said About Hawthorne 

Employees of Hawthorne, 57, paid their respects by visiting the location where he killed himself with a self-inflicted gunshot. They said the news of their boss' sudden death was shocking because they never saw him angry. “We saw him every day. He talks to everyone. He was always in a good mood,” Hanaku Oxori, who has been working at the factory for 17 years expressed to the New York Post. Many employees of the brand, like Oxori, revealed they remained employed at the company for nearly 20 years because Hawthorne was a great boss to work for. Fans of the Golden Krust business grew to love Hawthorne, especially when he appeared on the hit reality show Undercover Boss. On social media, they conveyed that they didn’t believe the news of his death and suspected foul play.

The Surprising Tax Debt 

However, a family member of Hawthorne told detectives that the mogul had mounting tax debt. The same relative also disclosed to law enforcement that Hawthorne was “acting funny” and “talking to himself” in the hours leading up to his death. Police say surveillance tapes show Hawthorne shooting himself inside his office that’s located in the Bronx factory. Four days before ending his life, Hawthorne wrote on Facebook about the struggles he faced as a Caribbean immigrant and how he hoped his story inspires others to go after their dreams.

Hawthorne's Legacy 

“I was always in search of the next honest means to make a dollar. Like many transplanted Caribbean nationals, I struggled to work and raise a family. I can only thank God for everything I have achieved. If my story here can inspire others to rise up and give it a go, I would have accomplished something meaningful,” he wrote on the social media platform. Aside from the 120 store locations, Golden Krust sold its popular pastry to 20,000 supermarkets, the United States military, correctional and city educational systems. According to its official website, it was the first Caribbean-owned business to be given a franchise license in the United States and will eventually launch locations in Canada.

Steven Clarke, Hawthorne's nephew and franchise's spokesman said at a news conference the family is arranging Hawthorne's funeral but is unsure if it will be open to the public. He revealed the family is still processing "this tragic loss."