HAMILTON HEIGHTS — The employee of a Metro PCS was found dead inside his Manhattan shop's storage room Friday afternoon with trauma to his head, soures said.
Friends and relatives said Francisco Pinzon-Martinez, 30, an employee at a Broadway store near West 145th Street, worked three jobs, including as a porter for the building where the store was located, in order to send money home to his parents and sisters in the Guerrero state of Mexico.
A store manager discovered Pinzon-Martinez's body at 1:13 p.m. Friday, unconscious and unresponsive, inside a storeroom where extra stock and the shop's money was kept, sources said.
"They said he was choked. They smothered his face with a plastic bag," said Jose Villa, 29, who had known Pinzon-Martinez for a nine years, and worked next door at a shop called Diamond King 145.
"He was a good working guy," he said. "No issues at all."
It appeared to have been a well-planned attack, police sources said, adding that the victim fought back.
On Saturday, friends and relatives gathered at the shop to set up a shrine and mourn the young man.
"You can't imagine what I felt. There's no words to describe. It's like a dream," said the victim's cousin and roommate, Jose Aguirre, 32. "I'd like to wake up and see it's not true, but it's reality."
Another cousin, Jeronimo Rosas, said he had lived with the victim in 2005, and that Pinzon-Martinez worked so hard in order to send money to his family — and send his sisters to college — back in Mexico.
"He works hard to support the family," said Rosas, through a translator. "A beautiful man."
Aguirre said the last person to see Pinzon-Martinez alive was the victim's uncle, who had seen him leave to lock up the Metro PCS at 8 p.m. Thursday. When his nephew hadn't returned home by 9 p.m., the uncle went to the laundromat where Pinzon-Martinez was due to work at midnight, but he never showed up, Aguirre said.
A friend from a local gym, Byron Pozuelos, 48, said he constantly saw the victim working out when he wasn't at one of this jobs.
"Very good guy, very friendly, worked hard," said Pozuelos. "It's very sad. He was very young. All the time he asked about my mom."
A resident of the building at 3544 Broadway said a faulty front door lock had been a problem for some time.
Police could not say immediately whether stock or cash from the cellular phone store's storage room — a rented apartment in the same building as the shop — had been missing.
As of Saturday, police had no suspects but an investigation was ongoing, police said.