On a rainy Monday morning ten days after 67-year-old clerk Sueng Choi, known as Michael, was murdered during what police say was a botched robbery, the Daona Gourmet Deli & Market reopened to customers on the Upper East Side.
The makeshift memorial assembled in front of Daona, located at 201 East 81st Street at the corner of Third Avenue, has been moved to the northern side of the deli’s exterior. Monday’s rain left the heartfelt notes from neighbors waterlogged, however, a new message from the deli to the community has been added.
“First and foremost, we want to thank everyone who has shown us love and support during this tragic time,” the note begins, “We cannot put into words how much it means to us. We appreciate it from the bottom of our hearts.”
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In addition to announcing the Daona deli would reopen on Monday, March 13th, management said the store would not be open 24-hours a day, seven days a week anymore — for everyone’s safety.
“It is a decision that we made after a lot of thought and consideration,” the letter explains.
“We don’t want to live in fear. We don’t want that scumbag to feel like he won by instilling fear into this wonderful neighborhood.”
Kimond Cyrus, 39, was arrested last Thursday by the NYPD’s Regional Fugitive Task Force, which tracked the suspect to The Bronx. Cyrus has pleaded not guilty to a murder charge for the shooting death of 67-year-old Choi, back on Friday, March 3rd.
It was just before 11:30 pm, when police say the masked gunman wearing a white Tyvek-style coverall jumpsuit stormed the deli and announced a robbery. The customer told police he was forced to empty his pockets before the suspect turned his attention to Choi and began pistol-whipping him.
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According to prosecutors, the Medical Examiner determined that Choi was shot in his hand, which passed through and struck him in the head.
Kimond Cyrus is being held without bond. He’s due back in court on Wednesday.
“This is NY and as NYers we are strong and resilient,” Daona deli explains in the note to customers, “We hope that we can count on everyone to help us stay open and for us to continue serving you.”
“DAONA is a Korean rural word, it means; Everybody come! That is what we have wanted from the day this store opened and that is what we want going forward.”
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