September 23, 2014

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Prayers for peace

Clergy urge end to violence at vigil for murdered pizzeria owner

LORAIN — Twenty people with bowed heads stood silently in front of Granny D’s Pizza on Thursday — with some glancing up briefly for a quick glimpse of the pictures of David Kowalczyk pasted to the front of the building.
The East Erie Avenue traffic provided the only sound until the pastors began the prayer vigil honoring Kowalczyk, the 43-year-old owner of the pizzeria who was gunned down at work Saturday.
The group included friends, former employees and family and five local pastors.
Nancy Michaels, Kowalczyk’s live-in girlfriend of 25 years, and two of her children placed their hands on the glass door of the building, which by then had been covered with signs saying that Kowalcyzk will be sadly missed.
“He was a great man,” said Nancy’s daughter, Jennifer Michaels, who like all of Nancy’s children knew David as their stepfather. “I’m going to miss him so much.”
Nancy Michaels’ son, John, said he couldn’t speak about Kowalczyk or he might never stop crying. His eyes were red and swollen and tears were streaming down his cheeks after the vigil.
“Lately, there’s been so many different kinds of violence, from the two men who died in Iraq to the baby dying,” said the Rev. Bradley Donahue, referring to Army Sgt. Bruce Horner and Air Force Airman Eric Barnes, as well as 8-month-old Jayden Davidson, who died this week of severe head and brain injuries.
“We need to change as individuals, but we also need our community to change,” Donahue said. “We can’t respond to things with violence. We have to teach our community to act differently.”
Melanie Szabo, who worked for Kowalczyk in the mid-1990s, said her former boss was the kindest man she’d ever met. She came back often to visit with him and said he always had a smile on his face.
“He was such a great guy,” she said while holding her 4-year-old son, Jacob. “This was so senseless. He didn’t deserve to die.”
Police are investigating whether three men arrested Wednesday for another robbery might be connected to Kowalczyk’s shooting. Police officials Thursday weren’t disclosing anything more about the investigation.
Contact Adam Wright at 329-7151 or awright@chroniclet.com.

062907prayer.jpg Bruce Bishop / Chronicle
Nancy Michaels, the girlfriend of David Kowalczyk, looks over the messages left behind for him by friends.
See video of the vigil