CICERO – A 25-year-old Chicago man has been charged with three counts of murder in the shooting death of restaurant owner Giovanni Donancricchia in his Cicero pizzeria around midnight Thursday.
Matthew A. Brown-Turner, 25, was also charged with one count of armed robbery. He is scheduled to appear in Bond Court Saturday, June 22.
According to police, Turner walked into Albano's, 5912 W. Roosevelt Road, at about 12:30 a.m. Thursday, with a revolver and approached Angelia Donancricchia, wife of the slain owner, who was at the register. The restaurant was closed for the evening.
Giovanni Donancricchia saw Turner enter the business through an open back door and followed him to the counter area where Turner confronted his wife. Donancricchia entered through a swinging door and physically confronted Turner, giving his wife time to escape from the area. Donancricchia followed her out, but then turned to confront Turner again and was shot once in the chest.
Turner then fled the business on foot southbound through the alley, police said.
Police said that same night, a witness came forward and advised that a person say that they were involved the murder and gave detectives the name and address of the offender.
Detectives, tactical officers and patrol officers proceeded to that address where a surveillance was set up. At approximately 2 a.m.,Turner showed up and was taken into custody. During subsequent interviews, Turner made statements implicating himself in the attempted robbery and the murder, police said.
Police Superintendent Bernard Harrison said investigators began working feverishly as soon as they arrived at the crime scene, collecting evidence and fingerprints and reviewing video security tapes.
Owner remembered as good boss, hard worker
By all accounts, Giovanni "John" Donancricchia was a stand-up guy; liked by his employees at Albano's Restaurant in Cicero, his customers and those neighbors who did little more than exchange greetings in the early morning when he arrived to work.
On the afternoon of June 20, a handmade, freshly painted memorial bearing his name, was placed at the front door of the restaurant.
Thursday afternoon, people started showing up; some who had already heard about the killing, others confused at the paper signs hastily put up in the windows announcing the restaurant was, "Closed until further notice."
Hermilo Samano lives just down the alley from the Albano's parking lot, and would often see Donancricchia unloading his truck early in the morning as he walked the family dog.
"It's sad," he said. "All his life he worked to make something of his business."
Hermilo's son, Pedro Samano, said the neighborhood has changed for the worse over the past three years.
"It's really bad around there," he said. "It was probably someone who has been in there to eat."
Samano said the dangerous aspects of the 5900 block of Roosevelt Road cannot be blamed on the lack of police presence.
"There's a lot of police around," he said. "But as soon as they leave, everything happens. Around midnight it's really bad, even little kids are out."
"It's crazy, man," said one of Albano's pizza delivery men who wished not to be identified. The employee had arrived to work not knowing of Donancricchia's death.
"John was a real good guy. I've worked for him since February," he said
The employee added that about three months ago someone cut the phone lines to the business one night. He, Donancricchia and another employee toiled to reconnect the lines, the lifeblood of a carryout food business. About six weeks later, the business was burglarized.
"They didn't have to do that," he said. "John would have given [money] to them."
He added that it was not uncommon for Donancricchia to provide a free meal to someone in need.
Police are regulars at the pizzeria
The delivery driver echoed Samano's claim that police are on the job.
"Police are always patrolling and they come in here," he said pointing to the restaurant. "Police come in to eat or to pick up at least three times a day."
And not just Cicero police, he added. Chicago officers, whose jurisdiction is just a few blocks east, are steady customers as well.
Kelin Grajales works at the Boost Mobile store across the street. The contemporary interior of the store stands in contrast to the fact that one needs to be buzzed in from off the street to enter.
"Sometimes it just isn't safe, like in the summer," she said.
Grajales was also an Albano's lunch customer.
"Donancricchia was always busy, but he was also a really nice, friendly guy," she said. "I don't know why someone would do that."