Jan. 20, 2003
ATLANTA -- Bob "Rocky" Russo, the colorful and sometimes controversial owner of Rocky's Brick Oven Italian Restaurant in Atlanta's Buckhead suburb, died Jan. 20.
According to the Atlanta Business Journal, Atlanta police believe Russo, 52, died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest.
A report on AccessNorthGa.com said Russo called Atlanta police at about 9 p.m. on Jan. 19, threatening to harm himself. City police came to his high-rise apartment with members of a SWAT team and hostage negotiators, who attempted to talk to Russo.
Authorities believe he shot himself around 2:30 a.m. the next morning.
Rocky's had become a landmark restaurant since opening in the 1970s. Both Russo's pizza and politics became well known via a marquee in front of his restaurant, which bore messages such as "Let's Not Divide Over GA Flag." Russo even staged a hunger strike over the threat of nuclear war between India and Pakistan last year.
The restaurant also hosted many celebrities, including former President Jimmy Carter, former U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, Mick Jagger, Julia Roberts and Elton John.