The owner of the former Wendys restaurant on Main Street was expected to make an $18,000 donation to the Flushing Library Thursday, honoring the five workers who were murdered at the restaurant last spring by funding an after-school program for one year.
The donation was to be made Thursday, the one-year anniversary of the massacre, which left five workers dead and two others wounded. The new owner, 40-12 Main Street Realty LLC., purchased the property earlier this year from Victor Nevins, a Whitestone Realtor whose family had owned it for nearly a half century.
Initially, one of the new owners, Ben Wong, said he was considering turning the former Wendys into a fast-food restaurant. But instead 40-12 Main Street Realty chose to rent it out to A.O. Realty in Flushing, whose client is now developing the property into a mini-mall. The new owner and the renter agreed not to open the mini-mall until after the one-year anniversary.
We arranged with the tenant who we rented to at considerable cost to my client to keep it closed, said Glenn Lau-Kee, an attorney for 40-12 Main Street Realty.
Lau-Kee said that after reviewing the various programs run by the Queens Public Library, the owner decided to donate funds to an after-school project since young children would benefit the most. Known as the Latchkey Enrichment Program, the workshop at the Flushing Library on Main Street provides homework assistance and tutoring to school children, said Joseph Catrambone, a spokesman for the Queens Library. There are similarly modeled workshops at 35 branches throughout the borough, he said.
Nearly a year after the massacre, described by prosecutors as one of the most horrific crimes in the annals of the city, one of the two gunmen accused of the murders is still awaiting trial. The other pleaded guilty in January and was sentenced to life in prison.
Earlier this month, a second indictment charging John Taylor, the man awaiting trial, as the mastermind of the massacre was handed up by a grand jury. It accuses him of commanding Craig Godineaux, the man who pleaded guilty, to fatally shooting six of the seven workers, including 22-year-old Anita Smith, the only female employee.
Taylor has pleaded not guilty to the charges detailed in the two indictments on which he has been arraigned. The district attorney is seeking the death penalty against Taylor.
Whenever either defendant made a court appearance, most of the families of the victims would attend. Noticeably absent, however, was Patricio Castro, whose address is unknown, and his family, one of two workers who survived the shootings.
The other, JaQuione Johnson, of Flushing, appeared at the sentencing of Godineaux after undergoing lengthy rehabilitation for a gunshot wound he received to his right temple. The victims who died were Anita Smith, of South Jamaica; Ramon Nazario, of Flushing; Ali Ibadat, of Ridgewood; Jeremy Mele, of Neptune, N.J.; and Jean Auguste, of Brooklyn.
Reach reporter Chris Fuchs by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 156.
©2001 Community News Group
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