Two Lives: The Pizza Guy and the Killer
64 year old Giovanni Donancricchia was the classic example of an immigrant that came to this country with very little money and no English skills and was able to attain the American Dream.
On June 20th 2013 all that changed when he was shot dead inside his own restaurant, Albano's Pizzeria, after protecting his wife of forty-two years from a gun-welding robber.
He stepped in front of her and told her to run and call the police. Less then thirty seconds later Giovanni was shot dead. The only money in the cash register was some fives and singles with some change.
I found it pretty ironic that Giovanni Donancricchia owned his restaurant for 25 years, while the alleged killer, Matthew Brown-Turner, is 25 years of age. I started to think how each of these individuals spent the last 25 years of their lives.
Mr. Donancricchia entered this country at an age of 19 or so, roughly the same age as Matthew Brown-Turner had been when he was arrested on suspicion of heroin possession.
Actually there was a warrant out for Turner at the time of the shooting for violating his probation numerous times.
The defense at his up coming trial may play the “disadvantage, minority” card but in comparing these two men who was the most disadvantaged? Mr Donancricchia only had a fifth grade education and taught himself English by reading children's books.
For 40 years he worked many jobs including being a trash collector and a cook at various restaurants.
Twenty-five years ago he bought Albano's Pizzeria. He worked seven days a week and for a very long time most Holidays.
This uneducated man put his three kids through college and taught them a lesson while growing up with his strong work ethic and having them take responsibility in helping him run their small business.
One of the his children said at the time, “I didn't understand it then, but I do now .” His restaurant was also featured on the Travel Channel as one of the Best 101 places to Chow down”
There is more to the story of Giovanni Donancricchia then just being a loving husband and father though. Much more.
This was a man that showed compassion to just about everyone he met. In this mixed-race neighborhood few if anyone had a bad word to say about this man.
He was famous for telling people that were a few dollars short to "get me back next time". If they needed a few bucks or food he would give them a job such as telling them to go straighten out the parking lot.
He was known for taking left over food and going out on the streets to find homeless people. The night he was shot he had left the back door to his restaurant open though it was almost midnight. The homeless knew they could come in and get few slices of pie leftover from the day's business.
The police were friends of Mr. Donancricchia also and they could often be seen eating there.
The boy that immigrated from Sicily made good. The other boy, Matthew Brown-Turner has made choices that were very different then the ones Giovanni made.
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The evidence of the many lives Giovanni touched has been seen through the outpouring of sympathy for this man's family which has been overwhelming.
Day after the shooting an memorial was hastily set up by neighbors and customers at his small Pizzeria shop.
More then a hundred mourners showed up at his funeral, some coming as far away as Italy.
To be honest I know very little about Matthew Brown-Turner but I can't help but wonder how many lives he has touched in his 25 years on this planet or how many people would mourn his death.
I've seen his mugshot and he looks like a piece of trash. I guess I have never been diplomatic. Giovanni's wife was more forgiving saying “'Don't judge a neighborhood on one bad guy”.
Albano's Pizzeria reopened a few days ago with the support of the local community stopping by to order food or reminiscence while the juke box played the favorites of the boy from Sicily.