Rochester, N.Y. - Emilio Quintana was living the American Dream.
Forced to drop out of school in the fourth grade to attend the family farm in Puerto Rico, he came to Rochester as a young man, worked hard and became a landlord and owner of several convenience stores.
In 1991, Quintana was shot to death in a robbery attempt.
“It’s been tough without a father,” says Freddy Quintana. He was just four years old when his father was killed. With every year the hurt in his heart grows.
“It’s hard because on Father’s Day me and my brother we go and plant flowers (at the cemetery). We have no dad to actually be with,” says Quintana.
His father was shot behind the cash register of his convenience store on Hudson Avenue which was called Felix Mini Mart. Twenty one years later the store remains open, but not in the family.
It was shuttered by Quintana’s 16-year-old son and sold. “The last thing I did for him was clean up his blood from inside the store,” says Angel Ocasio who is the victim’s stepson. “It was kind of crazy.”
Known for his trademark hat Quintana built a small business empire of stores and rental property after migrating here in the 1960s. Friends say he never forgot his humble beginnings and gave a hand-up to many.
“He was like a father figure to me, he raised me,” says Frank Graham as he tears up. “Its just rough, it’s rough without him, thinking of him.”
Rochester’s Mayor, Tom Ryan, was among the hundreds of mourners who paid respects at calling hours and the funeral.
Two young men were seen running from the store. But witnesses who identified them later recanted. Seven thousand 609 days have since passed. “No one has been found or caught,” says David Quintana who is the victim’s nephew.
Next month, May 16 on the 21st anniversary of the crime, the family will pass out flyers at the store location. They are sure someone who is still in Rochester has information that could help them finally learn what happened.
On the night of the shooting, David Quintana was working in another family-owned market just around the corner. It is the only store that remains in the family today.
Inside is a jaunty straw hat, a reminder of the man who is never far from his thoughts.
“To me he was an angel,” he says of his uncle. “Me, my family, everyone who knows him we just want closure.”