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Family remembers their last words to Tone Macc

By Ivan Pereira

August 31, 2011

  • Talia McFadden (top) speaks about her brother Tony McFadden and shows a photo of him (above) on her cell phone as her mother Sherian McFadden (l.) looks on. Photos by Christina Santucci

  • Talia McFadden shows a photo of her brother Tony McFadden on her cell phone as her mother Sherian McFadden (l.) looks on. Photo by Christina Santucci

  • Sherian McFadden, whose son Tony was shot and killed in October, likes to have photos around to remind her of him. Photo by Christina Santucci

On Oct. 11, 2010, the day Tony McFadden Jr. II was killed, he asked his mother for one small favor.

The 26-year-old, who was known to his family simply as Junior or Tone Macc, was set to visit his parents and siblings at their Jamaica home for dinner and he wanted to make sure they were ready for him.

"He told me, 'Make sure you fix me a plate,'" Sherian McFadden recalled. "He said, 'I'm coming over, just make sure you put me a plate aside.'"

Although there is nothing that can fill that empty seat at the McFadden table, the family said their faith and commitment to helping others has helped to keep Junior's spirit alive.

Bishop Tony McFadden Sr., pastor of the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ in Jamaica, recalled Junior, the eldest son of his six children, as a person who always did good for his family and friends.

Tone Macc would go to church every Sunday with the family, help out with chores at home and bring a smile to everyone, according to the patriarch.

"He was a person you could not help but love," he said. "His heart went out for people all the time. It did not matter who you were."

Tone Macc lived in southeast Queens all his life, attended Jamaica High School and eventually began working as a plumber in the neighborhood. Even after moving out of the family home, he remained close to his parents and siblings, making sure that every Sunday he was at church and making his voice heard in the choir.

"Oh, he'd make tears come to your eyes every time he sang," Sherian McFadden said.

The church, at 156-20 South Rd., was the last place the family saw Tone Macc alive. Following the usual Sunday service, Tony Sr. recalled how he told his son he loved him right before they parted.

"And I hugged him for the last time that Sunday not knowing I'd never see him again," he said.

Around 4:30 p.m., a man rang the bell at the house where Tone Macc was living and the visitor asked for him, police said. When he came down to see the man at the door, Tone Macc was fatally shot in the head.

For months, police searched for clues and uncovered surveillance footage that showed the suspect walking away nonchalantly in broad daylight moments after the shooting. On Jan. 28, they arrested Luis Cherry, 20, a suspected member of the Crips, who is accused of shooting another man in Suffolk County three days later, the authorities said.

He is currently waiting to be tried on murder in Queens and Suffolk.

Talia McFadden, the eldest of the siblings, said her brother never knew Cherry and she could not fathom why the suspect would target her sibling. She noted that Cherry was so arrogant that he bragged on what she believes is his Facebook page about eluding the police.

"The way he was going, he didn't think he was getting caught," she said.

While Talia and Sherian feel anger toward Cherry, Bishop McFadden said he sorry for the man the DA says murdered his son, but he also wants the killer to be brought to justice. The father said his faith has grown tremendously since Junior's death and that faith has made him pity Cherry.

"I just feel sorry for him and I would hope in his own life he can find repentance in his own heart to acknowledge Jesus as lord," he said. "God is the one that forgave me and I can forgive anyone else."

The McFaddens have been working to turn their personal tragedy into a means of preventing other innocent people from losing their lives to unnecessary violence. Talia created the Tony McFadden Jr. II Foundation shortly after her brother's death and is using it to spread the message of non-violence throughout the streets of southeast Queens with rallies, workshops and community discussions.

Aside from helping victims' families deal with the emotional burden of losing a loved one, Talia said she is working on a way for the foundation to help those families cope with the financial difficulties that result from a death.

Tone Macc did not have a life insurance policy at the time of his death and the family had to pay all of his funeral expenses out of their own pocket. Talia said the foundation will use donations from interested people to help cover the costs and the effort is off to a good start.

"The Color Purple" star Danny Glover has been in talks with the foundation to help out, according to the family.

Their work in the community has helped to make Tone Macc's smiling face the poster man for non-violence, but for Pastor McFadden seeing his son's face on posters and in frames is like pouring salt on an open wound.

In fact, unlike his wife, he said he cannot look at old pictures of Junior around the house and instead relies on his personal memories of his son.

"Photos ... remind me as if just yesterday he were alive," he said. "It is like a wound to me to just keep photos of him when I can just keep him in my heart and I remember the good times with him. It makes the burden a little lighter for me to know I got him right here."