QUEENS — The 16-year-old Brooklyn Technical High School junior who police said was killed along with his mom by his father in a murder-suicide Tuesday morning was remembered Wednesday by friends and clergy as a “very bright” and “sweet” young man.
Brian Lee was found laying with his mother, Lee Sung, 54, with both their throats slashed and their bodies burned by his father, Lee Joon, 55, whose body was discovered on top of them in the aprtment, according to police sources and court records.
The father's rambling suicide note detailing the family’s money troubles was found in their sixth-floor Flushing apartment, according to Senior Pastor Hyung Seok Kim and police sources.
Joon was injured in a 2011 car crash and concerned that his deteriorating health could cause him to die before his wife and son, saddling them with debt, according to an official from Flushing City Council Member Peter Koo's office.
“We can’t accept this happening. They had a very good relationship,” Pastor Kim, who has led the New Creation Presbyterian Church at 20-10 Utopia Parkway for eight years, told DNAinfo New York Wednesday afternoon.
Kim added that the father, who he noted worked as a tractor-trailer driver, would pick up his son from the church every Friday after he finished attending a youth group.
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The head of the group, Joseph Park, 24, said Joon asked him how his son was doing.
“We just talked about Brian,” Park told DNAinfo. “I was telling him about how good of a son he has.”
Park added that the high school student did not talk much about his family’s financial struggles, but that he recently said his father was his role model because he worked hard to try to support them.
“He said he was always willing to do anything for the family.”
Park added that Brian was one of the “genuinely nice people I met,” who always had a “positive” outlook on life.
The young man also inspired others, according to Park, who said Brian once took responsibility for cleaning up the church after the group met.
“Nobody was willing to clean," he said. "He just encouraged everyone. Before I knew it they cleaned everything perfectly.”
Several students at Brooklyn Tech said they were shocked by his death.
"My classmates and I were disturbed and sad to hear the news," said James Ma, 16, who studied electro-mechanics with Brian and said he played trumpet in the school band and had a lot of friends.
Mona Liu, 16, who said she and Brian were “close,” added that he was interested in robotics and was always making jokes.
“I just saw him yesterday, but we didn’t say anything to each other,” Mona said Tuesday while tears streamed down her face.
Pastor Kim said that Brian attended church with his mother, but that she stopped going to Sunday services about eight weeks ago after attending for a decade because she started working at a nail salon.
The mother confided in the clergyman that the family was going through a “financial crisis.”
A 2005 bankruptcy filing showed the family had about $100,000 in debt.
Kim said the church was waiting for the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and NYPD to finish their full examination before being able to set memorial and funeral dates.
A spokeswoman for the ME said that a preliminary report on the the mother and son found they died from stab wounds to the neck and their deaths were ruled a homicide on Thursday.
The father's cause of death was "pending further studies," the spokeswoman added.
The congregation was planning to pray for Brian and his mother during Wednesday night services, Kim added.
Park hoped that the prayer could help other young people in the church deal with the loss.
“They don’t understand how someone who is supposed to love them could do such a thing,” Park said. “They are pretty shocked.”