When business was slow, as it often is around the holidays, Ozgur found odd jobs. At 2 a.m. on the night after Christmas, he was picking up a delivery at Denny’s in Manassas, Va., for the service DoorDash when he was shot and killed.
The death of a kind, diligent man in a random robbery drew hundreds of mourners Saturday to a mosque in Lanham, Md., and thousands more to donate online to the family he labored constantly to support. Mourners pinned small photos of Ozgur to their chests with a message in Turkish and English: “You will not be forgotten.”
In a statement, his wife said she hoped people would take from his life a message of unity and love. “If everyone had a heart like Yusuf, the world would be a peaceful place,” she said.
The imam said Ozgur’s cheerful disposition and good heart had carried with him into death: “As I washed his body, I saw the happiness on his face.”
After the religious ceremony, Ozgur, of Manassas, was buried in Fredricksburg.
Some came or donated because they had worked with Ozgur, a onetime waiter at restaurants across Northern Virginia, or hired him to work on their homes. Others knew him through the Turkish community; some came to express support for a fellow Turkish immigrant despite not knowing him at all. Over half the mourners were strangers, a friend said, who heard about Ozgur’s death and were moved to mourn him.
“He always talked about his daughter and his family; you could tell that meant the world to him,” said Barry Hathaway, who was Ozgur’s boss at McCormick and Schmick’s in Reston for years. He said Ozgur would bring in his own tools to fix things around the restaurant, learning as he went. He would jokingly mock other employees for not having his mechanical mind.
His relatives own Turkish restaurants throughout Northern Virginia that have helped bring many immigrants to the United States and connect Ozgur with hundreds of people. Bora Tunckanat came to the funeral as a representative from the Turkish government. But he said he knew someone who did know the family — the embassy chef.
One such relative said he wished Ozgur had taken a job at his restaurant.
“I didn’t know he was working for DoorDash; if I did, I would have said that kind of thing is very dangerous,” said Zeynel Uzun. “He was just trying to get for his kids bread and butter, a couple of dollars in tips.”
Uzun said Ozgur had wanted to strike out on his own and build something for himself and his family. He hoped to fund his children’s education and maybe a home for himself and his wife to retire to the Turkish countryside.
“He was always just on the line,” said his neighbor Murat Ozcan. When Ozcan’s family traveled to Turkey this year, Ozgur said he could not afford the tickets. But Ozcan and others said Ozgur was always cheerful and generous. The last message he received from his friend was an invitation to pick up grape leaves and tomatoes from Ozgur’s backyard garden.
“Family, how the kids were — that’s all he thought about,” Sprow, the basketball coach, said. The last time they spoke, he said, was about their Christmas plans. While Ozgur was a practicing Muslim, friends and relatives said they celebrated the holiday as an American tradition and felt his death more keenly because it fell a day later.
“Such a day like that, for peace, for joy for everybody,” Uzun said. “It’s very, very tough.”
Police say Ozgur was killed by two men who entered the store with a gun and a baton, demanding wallets and cellphones from the people gathered inside. Along with Ozgur, a 34-year-old man was wounded.
Local and federal law enforcement have linked the assailants to three other recent armed robberies at local businesses. While surveillance video captured at least two of the attacks, the perpetrators wore masks and hoods that make them hard to identify. The FBI is offering a $10,000 reward for information.
Among the over 2,000 people who donated money to Ozgur’s family online were several fellow DoorDash drivers.
“This breaks my heart,” wrote one. “Dashers look out for each other.”