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#3881: Memories of Jean Dumel Auguste and the other Hard-Working Young Lives (fwd)
From: Guy Antoine <GuyAntoine@windowsonhaiti.com>
>From the New York Times
Grieving Memories of Hard-Working Young Lives
By DAN BARRY
It was just another Wendy's restaurant, one of dozens in New York City,
with another crew of employees working yet another night shift.
There was Ramon, who liked nothing better than to drink beer while
standing watch over a backyard barbecue. And Anita, always eating salads
to look good in the clothes she so carefully selected. And Jean, the
restaurant's assistant manager, who recently asked his brother for
advice about marriage; it seemed as if he had finally found his partner
They came from different backgrounds, and different neighborhoods --
even different countries -- but they were united in the entry-level path
they had chosen to pursue a better life. They would move up and on by
checking the French fries, stocking the condiment stand, mopping the
But late Wednesday night, their closing-time routine was interrupted.
They and their four co-workers soon found themselves in the restaurant's
basement, their hands tied behind them, their mouths sealed with duct
tape, guns aimed at their heads. And a certain restaurant in Flushing,
Queens, would never be just another Wendy's ever again.
Ramon Nazario, Anita C. Smith and Jean Dumel Auguste were shot dead,
along with Jeremy Mele, who at 18 was the youngest victim, and Ali
Ibadat, an immigrant so solitary in his habits that the police were
still trying to figure out whom to formally notify. Their two badly
wounded colleagues, Jaquione Johnson and Patrick Castro, somehow managed
to crawl up the stairs to call for help.
As if sensing that the hunt for the two gunmen might soon overshadow the
stories of the dead, friends and relatives of the victims paused from
their mourning yesterday, opened their doors and shared grief-clouded
memories: of earnest striving and young love, of proud moments and a
pretty good Elvis impersonation.
On the top floor of one of the six-story apartment buildings looming
over Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn, not far from Prospect Park, a woman's
cry rang out: "Why? Why? Why?" This was the mother of Jean Dumel
Auguste; her relatives refused to give her name, as if to suggest that
such wailing was all that one needed to know.
Mr. Auguste, 27, had great ambition, his relatives said with admiration.
Born in Haiti, he had come to the United States in 1990 for the same
reason that had attracted the rest of his family, his brother-in-law,
St. Anel Saint-Vilus, said: "Looking for a better life."
He found work at Wendy's, the fast-food company that has 4,900
restaurants and more than 200,000 employees throughout the country. For
a while he worked as a crew manager at a Wendy's in Whitestone, Queens.
His former colleagues recalled him as someone who would drive them home
after a late shift.
In January, Mr. Auguste was promoted to assistant store manager and
assigned to the Wendy's in Flushing. He preferred to work the 3-to-11
shift, his brother, Jean Elson Auguste, said, because "he could do more
business." Denny Lynch, Wendy's vice president for communications, said
Mr. Auguste had reached a salaried position that included a bonus
incentive that "is based in part on the success of the individual
Jean Elson Auguste said his brother had called him a few days ago to
talk about marriage. For the last two years, Jean Dumel had been dating
Linda Pardo, 32, a nurse.
"He finally got the woman that he wanted to get married to," he said.
A short while later, Ms. Pardo, her face wet with tears, looked past the
stream of visitors to the Auguste family's apartment to stare at the
reporters outside. She burst into tears, then went back inside.
In South Jamaica, Queens, the relatives of Anita Smith sat on a stoop
outside a small, three-story house, sharing memories that made them cry
one moment and laugh the next. Ms. Smith, they said, was 22, a graduate
of Springfield Gardens High School who had dreams of going to college.
She was fashion-conscious, they said, with a discerning eye.
After working the late shift at Wendy's, Ms. Smith would take a bus back
to her neighborhood. "I wasn't afraid of her working nights at Wendy's,"
her mother, Joan Smith, said. "I was more afraid of her coming up the
Ms. Smith leaves behind her mother, a younger sister, two younger
brothers and her maternal grandparents. Her grandmother, Pamella Truman,
stood on the porch with odd mementos from her granddaughter's life,
including a photograph from elementary school and a certificate of honor
that read: "Wendy's Employee of the Month. To reward you for your
accomplishments in guest satisfaction."
In Flushing, not far from the restaurant, those who knew and loved Ramon
Nazario gathered in and around the basement apartment he shared with
seven other people, including his mother, his stepfather, his wife,
Malgo, and his 2-year-old son, Ramon. They described a native of Puerto
Rico with a Zorba-like zest for life, someone who loved beer and
barbecues and who could defend himself verbally and physically.
Mr. Nazario, 44, spent most of his life doing anonymous grunt work in
restaurants, they said. But he came to life when he hung up his apron.
"He did Elvis imitations," his friend Rashid Sachdeva said. "He would
wear the tightest army pants made for his body."
In a modest ranch house in Neptune, N.J., the relatives of Jeremy Mele
struggled with the loss, which they had learned of while watching
television yesterday morning. They said he had grown up on the Jersey
Shore, but had moved to Queens after graduating from Neptune High School
last June to be closer to his girlfriend, whom he had met through the
junior Reserve Officers Training Corps program.
Finally, in Ridgewood, Queens, Abdul Waheed struggled to remember the
little he could of Ali Ibadat, the immigrant from Pakistan who, for
three years, lived in the windowless, one-room apartment next to his
own, in the basement of a building at 789 Woodward Avenue. He said the
two men shared a bathroom, a small, dingy kitchen, and very few words.
Mr. Waheed knew that his quiet neighbor had two teenage children back in
Pakistan, that he had also once lived in England, and that he worked
"seven days a week, 12 months a year" at one of those Wendy's