"This is just bad news right now".
Golden Krust was founded in 1989 and has over 100 stores in nine states including New York, New Jersey, Georgia and Florida.
An associate of Hawthorne's was also perplexed as to why the businessman would kill himself.
"It doesn't make any sense", he said.
"He was a brilliant business guy".
Hawthorne's personal story of success is everything the American Dream is made of.
More than a dozen current and former employees stood in disbelief outside the factory hours later, many of them in tears.
Authorities were first notified of a possible disturbance at the factory after some employees saw his Tesla parked unusually in the parking lot with the vehicle left partially blocking a traffic lane. "Lowell Hawthorne was a good friend, and was always ready to help my office whenever we needed him".
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"Look how far he reached", Hawthorne's friend Wayne Muschamb told NY reporters on Saturday. "He's known from here to Jamaica", Muschamb said. "He's known from here to Jamaica.I'm kind of lost for words, man. This has got me shocked".
"Everyone knows Lowell Hawthorne as an icon in our community, an inspiration to all of us, and Golden Krust is a part of everything - they bought tickets for the event last night (Saturday evening) as well".
During a brief news conference at the Golden Krust bakery, company spokesman and Hawthorne nephew Steven Clarke said widow Lorna Hawthorne was making funeral arrangements and it was unclear if there would be a public memorial service.
In addition, Hawthorne wrote a book in 2012, The Baker's Son.
The suicide of a successful local entrepreneur is causing shock and sadness both in NY and his native Jamaica.
LoHud.com is reporting that Hawthorne's death now raises questions for his friends and family, and for big plans he had for his company.
"Golden Krust was a formative part of my childhood and adolescence as we lived across the street from the one in Brooklyn", @JadoreCas tweeted.
By 1996, they owned 17 restaurants throughout New York City.