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Police: Owner of coney shop killed in own restaurant

James David Dickson
The Detroit News

Officials have identified a 59-year-old man and business owner gunned down Thursday morning at his coney shop on Detroit’s west side, police said.

Detroit police officers finish their investigation at the scene Thursday at Detroit Coney Island at the corner of Schaefer and Ethel in southwest Detroit. Police say the owner of the restaurant was shot during a robbery attempt.

An autopsy for Franco Juncaj is scheduled for Friday, according to the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office. Police say he was shot in the chest.

Police believe the shooting was the result of a robbery at Detroit Coney Island on the 2600 block of Schaefer, south of Fort, said Officer Shanelle Williams, a Detroit Police Department spokeswoman.

The shooting took place sometime between 8:30 a.m., when the restaurant was “packed,” and 9:20, when police were called, said Assistant Police Chief Steve Dolunt, and came at a time when the restaurant was empty. There was no food on the grill and no food on tables.

It was a place frequented by Detroit and River Rouge officers, police said.

Williams said it doesn’t appear anything was taken from the restaurant and cash was still in the register.

The victim, who had started his work day about 3 a.m., has been active in the area for about 30 years, Williams said. According to Dolunt, he was an immigrant from Albania who had been in America for 36 years.

A longtime employee of Detroit Coney Island on the 2600 block of Schaefer, who declined to be identified, sits in disbelief Thursday after the restaurant’s owner was shot during what police say was a robbery attempt.

Dolunt, answering reporters’ questions in a session broadcast live via Facebook, called the death a “senseless loss of life” that claimed a man who was known for being “very trusting.”

While the store has bulletproof glass, Dolunt said, the victim would, against the advice of his loved ones, open the door to the front of the store and take customers’ orders face-to-face.

“This is a tough one for us,” he said. “He wasn’t a dope dealer, wasn’t a gangbanger, wasn’t a hood.”

The death rocked customers, employees and family.

“I have a feeling that we’ll come up with something (to solve the case),” Dolunt said. “Once the shock wears off, people will start talking.”

jdickson@detroitnews.com

Staff Writer Candice Williams contributed.