191227 Richardson Vigle 6

Franco Richardson mourns the loss of his father, Jessie Richardson, during a candlelight vigil in front of his popular Highland Avenue restaurant in late December.

The death of a popular North End restaurant owner has been ruled a homicide.

Falls Police detectives said they reached that conclusion after gathering additional evidence from the Calumet Avenue home of Jessie Richardson. Investigators had initially called Richardson's death suspicious.

Richardson, 69, the owner and operator of Richardson Fast Food Deli, on Highland Avenue, was discovered dead in his home around 9:40 a.m. Christmas Eve. Police found him lying on the floor of his bedroom.

Detectives had looked into the possibility of a suicide after recovering a gun and a shell casing at the scene. However, Criminal Investigation Division Detective Capt. Kelly Rizzo said late Wednesday that Crime Scene Unit investigators had recovered additional evidence from inside Richardson's home that led them to label his shooting aa a murder.

Rizzo had no word on a motive for the killing but said robbery was a possibility.

Family members told police they last spoke to Richardson the afternoon before his death and that he had been working at his restaurant during the day.

Richardson was well-known throughout the Cataract City. He was described by city leaders as "a pillar of the business and culinary communities, and a stalwart of Highland Avenue."

Detectives are continuing to ask members of the community, who may have information about Richardson's death, to contact them.

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