PATERSON, New Jersey (WABC) -- A family and a community in New Jersey is in mourning Monday after a well-known bodega owner was gunned down late last week.
Police continue to investigate the murder of 64-year-old Jose Tavarez, who owned the Ellison Mini Market in Paterson for at least the past decade.
Tavarez, according to longtime customers, lived and worked in the neighborhood along with his son for several years. They say his wife and other relatives lived in the Dominican Republic, and that he was a hard worker who put in long hours to support them. But he also looked forward to retiring and re-joining his family there, once and for all.
His plans and his life, however, were cut short Friday night by a gunman who entered the bodega and fatally shot this husband and father. Tavarez was rushed to St. Joseph's Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Candles and notes now line the entrance to the story, to honor a man who was a friendly and kind heart behind the counter.
"When you don't have enough, he will give you groceries and 'don't worry about it, pay me another day,'" resident Jacqueline Castro said. "Everybody felt that he was so caring and loving, that he was like a family."
"It doesn't matter if you're buying a quarter banana or something, he treated you the same," resident Lois Cherville added. "He was a loving kind man, and I love him."
The Passaic County Prosecutor's Office is leading the investigation.
Community mourns Paterson bodega owner gunned down in store