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Family of Murdered Poet Gives Donations to Reading Room She Helped Create

By Gwynne Hogan | October 14, 2016 10:38am | Updated on October 17, 2016 9:53am
 The proceeds of a GoFundMe campaign for Carolyn Bush will go towards Wendy's Subway on Bushwick Ave.
The proceeds of a GoFundMe campaign for Carolyn Bush will go towards Wendy's Subway on Bushwick Ave.
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EAST WILLIAMSBURG — The family of an aspiring poet stabbed to death by her roommate inside their Ridgewood apartment will donate money collected from a GoFundMe campaign to a reading room she helped create, they said.

After Carolyn Bush, 25, was killed on Sept. 28, a friend set up a GoFundMe to help her family pay funeral expenses. As of Oct. 12 it had gathered 221 donations totaling $7,600.

But Bush's father decided that the money would be best used by the nonprofit Wendy's Subway at 379 Bushwick Ave., which his daughter helped open in 2014. 

"We appreciate the outflowing of compassion, the generosity,” said Jim Bush, 58, from his St. Petersburg, Florida, home. He said he wanted the money go towards “helping to promote her legacy."

The folks at Wendy's Subway — a reading room and library that hosts screenings, workshops, lectures and reading groups — had become Carolyn's adoptive family and community in New York City, Bush said.

"After her death, the outpouring of condolences and sympathy and memories from that Wendy's community was very touching to me," he said. 

"Not having family in New York... that circle of friends was so important to her. I know it was."

Bush visited Wendy's Subway for the first time when he came to New York following his daughter's death, he said.

"I was amazed at the collection of books," he said.

"It was a great accomplishment for these young people."

The reading room aligned closely with his daughter's interests, he said. 

“Carrie, when she was growing up, she’s always been interested in literature," he said.

"This was a natural outgrowth of those experiences."

Bush studied literature at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, though she didn't graduate. She returned to her undergraduate studies at the New School last year, according to the university.

She'd worked for several years at McNally Jackson Independent Booksellers. 

Members of Wendy's Subway said the money would go toward projects to be announced in the upcoming months. They're also working on a collection of Bush's own work.

"As we continue to commemorate the indelible legacy of Carolyn’s life in and outside of Wendy’s Subway, we are collecting her poetry and writing into a forthcoming publication," they wrote in a statement. 

"We are grateful for the assistance of her friends, family and collaborators in helping us to gather these materials, which can be sent to info@wendyssubway.com."

Bush was killed by her roommate Render Stetson-Shanahan, 26, according to police and prosecutors. He is currently being held at Rikers Island without bail and is due back in court on Oct. 17, records show.

In a jailhouse interview, Stetson-Shanahan, ​who also attended Bard College, told the New York Post that he didn't remember stabbing Bush but that he hoped he could be placed in a psychiatric hospital somewhere upstate where he can "draw, paint and read."

The night he'd stabbed Bush inside their apartment, Stetson-Shanahan also stabbed himself in the leg and lunged at a neighbor outside their building, according to police, prosecutors and an eyewitness.