One after another, customers returned Monday to the Shamrock Deli in Audubon, Camden County, hugging workers behind the counter and remembering the kind owner, who was fatally stabbed three days earlier.
“Me and Jerry go back 50 years. We were childhood friends” in Voorhees, Steve Ginn, 58, one of the workers, said as the deli at Cuthbert Boulevard and Davis Avenue reopened after being closed for the weekend. “I’m his best friend.”
Ginn said he was still trying to process what happened. He was not at the deli when, authorities say, a teenager fatally stabbed Jerome Pastore, 57, about 4:50 p.m. Friday. Pastore was found by police across the street from the deli and was pronounced dead shortly afterward at Cooper University Hospital.
Ginn said the attacker fled with the tip jar from the counter, which had about $10 or at most $20. “If he needed money, Jerry would have given him the money,” Ginn said.
Pastore “was a good person,” said Ginn. “He had a heart of gold.”
A spokesperson for the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office declined Monday to confirm whether the tip jar was the motive in the stabbing. “The investigation into the fatal stabbing is still ongoing,” Alexandra McVeigh wrote. “As such, no additional information is being released at this time.”
The office announced Sunday that 18-year-old Dyheam Williams was arrested at his Lindenwold home — about 7½ miles away — and charged with murder and weapon offenses in the stabbing. Williams is in custody pending a pretrial detention hearing scheduled for Thursday.
Ginn said the alleged attacker had come into the deli “a few times,” and around the December holidays had “put in an application to work here.” The staff had not had a chance to review his application, Ginn said.
Pastore had owned the deli — which opened around 1980 — for about a year and a half, Ginn said. “It was his dream to own a deli,” to earn enough “to pay the bills,” he said. Pastore previously worked in the food industry, his friend said.
At Pastore’s West Berlin home Monday, an adult son who opened the door said the family was not ready to speak.
Pastore’s friends and relatives attended a vigil at 7 p.m. Monday outside the deli. Angelia Taylor, a regular patron of the Shamrock, organized the vigil and started a GoFundMe campaign to help Pastore’s wife, Ethel, and five children with funeral and other expenses.
On Monday morning, customer Bob Perna walked out of the deli with a coffee in his hand. “He was a good friend of mine,” he said of Pastore. “He was such a sweetheart of a guy. It makes me sick.”
“I don’t know what’s happening to this country,” Perna said. “Nobody’s safe.”