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Coney Island co-owner’s family seeks killer, ‘closure’

Nicquel Terry
The Detroit News

Detroit — Frano Juncaj’s family worried about his safety at the Detroit Coney Island where he often opened the door to his back counter that was shielded by a bulletproof window.

Juncaj and his younger brother, Anton Juncaj, had owned the Detroit eatery for 36 years and became a beloved staple in the southwest Detroit community.

Denise Curry, left, of River Rouge, comforts Frano Juncaj’s wife, Hana Juncaj, after a press conference Friday at Detroit Coney Island in Detroit. More than 25 family members, former employees and close friends joined Crime Stoppers of Michigan during the press conference.

On Sept. 1, their family’s worst fears came true.

Frano Juncaj was fatally shot around 9 a.m. during a break in his usual morning rush at the restaurant, located on the 2600 block of Schaefer Highway.

Authorities say he was shot when he opened the door that led behind the counter at his restaurant.

Now the family is begging the public to come forward with information that will help police arrest Juncaj’s killer.

Crime Stoppers has offered a cash reward of up to $10,000 for tips that lead to an arrest. If the tip is received by midnight Saturday, Crime Stoppers will add $1,000 to the reward.

“Unfortunately, there’s one thing the community hasn’t given us is closure,” said Frano’s brother, Jack Juncaj, during a Crime Stoppers press conference on Friday. “We know somebody out there knows who committed this heinous crime.”

“At this time we still don’t have the closure we need to give us the peace to put this issue behind us,” he said.

Several other relatives and community members attended the press conference, some emotional and holding back tears.

Frano Juncaj died 10 days before his first granddaughter was born, said Anthony Jones, spokesman for Crime Stoppers.

This is the Crime Stoppers of Michigan informational flier of murder victim Frano Juncaj.

Jones said Juncaj immigrated to the United States from Albania in 1975 and opened Detroit Coney Island with his brother in 1980.

The brothers were loyal to the neighborhood and often fed people in need. The restaurant also was a popular stop for police officers.

Frano Jucaj’s son, Nicholas Juncaj, said he was concerned about his father working in a rough neighborhood.

“He was a good-hearted person that never did anyone wrong,” Nicholas Juncaj said. “He made it a point to make it clear that he was fine and we had nothing to worry about because the community loved him just as much as he loved them.”

Detroit Coney Island has been closed since the slaying.

Anton Juncaj said he hasn’t decided whether he will reopen the restaurant. He said he likely will make a decision when and if the killer is found.

Neighbors, family members say, have been on edge because the person who killed Frano is still on the loose.

“Our community loved him,” local barber Lesli Kyles said. “If you all know anything, say something.”

Anyone with information can make an anonymous call to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-SPEAK-UP or visit www.1800speakup.org.

nterry@detroitnews.com

@NicquelTerry

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