WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — Friends and family stopped by Carrot Top Pastries in Washington Heights Wednesday to remember Renee Mancino, the bakery’s well-known owner who died the day before in an apparent suicide inside her Broadway shop.
“We opened today because there are a lot of customers who want to know about her,” said Luna Peralta, the bakery’s longtime manager. “For her, everyone was family.”
One customer who stopped in to see Mancino’s daughter struggled to find the right words.
“Much love, much love, much love,” he said. “So much respect for your mom.”
Mancino died of a gunshot wound to the head on Tuesday morning in the basement office of her bakery at 3931 Broadway. She shot herself in front her husband, retired police officer Robert Mancino, with his service revolver, according to him and a source.
Peralta, who said she was with Mancino at the time of the shooting, described everything as a blur.
“It was one second,” Peralta said. “It was so quick.”
Friends and family said the beloved 66-year-old baker had been feeling down recently after a change in the medication doctors were using to treat her cancer.
“She just told me last week that they changed her meds and she didn’t want to take it because it made her sad,” Peralta said.
Peralta added that Mancino mentioned the medication moments before her death, saying that it made her sick and depressed.
Mancino’s daughter, Tan'yika Allen, who prefers to go by Nikki, believes that the medication clouded her mother’s thinking.
“This was an accident,” she said. “She didn’t intend to kill herself. If you knew my mother you know that.”
Allen described her mother as a strong person who had overcome many health issues, including heart surgery and a car accident that had caused her permanent memory loss. She said that lately Mancino had been upset.
“My mom was down,” Allen said. “She had so much on her plate. No one ever knows what you’re going through.”
Mancino's daughter said she hadn't slept since the day before her mother’s death.
“I feel like if I don’t sleep, tomorrow will never come,” she said. “I can still be in November 10 and this will never have happened."
Outside of the bakery, loved ones created a memorial with flowers, candy and a large photograph of Mancino. Locals stopped to pay their respects to a woman who was known for giving back to the community.
People recalled how she had donated cakes to homeless shelters, prisons and senior centers, as well as sponsored a Little League team and hired local teens to give them work experience.
“My mom was the queen,” said Allen, who also works in the family business. “I can fit in her shoes, but I will never be able to fill her shoes.”
A memorial service will be held for Mancino on Thursday, Nov. 13, at the Riverdale Funeral Home at 5044 Broadway from 4 to 8 p.m. A burial will follow on Friday, Nov. 14, at Rose Hill Cemetery in New Jersey at 9 a.m.