Burger Up co-founder kills himself in 12South restaurant

Saturday, March 3, 2012 at 3:02pm

One of the co-founders of Burger Up apparently vandalized the front windows of the 12South restaurant before entering and killing himself.

Michael Pontes was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound early Saturday morning, police confirmed. In the middle of a divorce from co-founder Miranda Whitcomb Pontes, Michael Pontes allegedly used pink spray paint to insult his spouse before going inside. Police responded just after 4 a.m.

The Burger Up location in 12South opened in May, 2010, to excellent reviews and began showing up in national press soon after. A second location was opened in Cool Springs in Fall of 2011.

Ms. Pontes was not available for comment and both restaurants were closed on Saturday.

A statement on the restaurant's Twitter account noted: "The world lost a beautiful soul early this morning. @BurgerUP will reopen someday. Until then, with love."

26 Comments on this post:

By: WickedTribe on 3/3/12 at 4:10

Funny how the Tennessean makes no mention of the motive in their article yet it's made explicitly clear in the second paragraph, here.

By: spooky24 on 3/3/12 at 6:14

Divorce a motive for suicide?


By: Shane Smiley on 3/3/12 at 6:27

I'm shocked that this rag and the Tennessean both said:Miranda Pontes could not be reached for comment.
Are you kidding me? What kind of heartless/classless person tries to contact the widow only hours after such a tragedy?
If this is standard procedure, our civilization has lost all civility.

My thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends.

By: gabster1000 on 3/3/12 at 6:51

I live the 12 South area and walked by before the windows were cleaned. The pain and anger was obvious in the message..I won't repeat what was there. I know that he did so much of the work there and put so much of his time into developing it and making it work. Maybe he saw everything he cared about being lost....I just wish that he could have gotten help. May he find peace on his next journey and may the healing begin...I have a friend who took his own life. It is a long journey to recover and those close to you are never the same.

By: Laurenc_71 on 3/3/12 at 10:05

Michael Pontes was a wonderful man. Although the media is making him come across as some sort of monster he had a loving heart. He loved Burger UP and would have done anything for it to succeed. The situation is more than the media is portraying. Do not become jaded because of what is out there.

By: Izzie on 3/3/12 at 10:41

This sweet man left a detailed suicide note. No one lies before they meet their maker. I hope people realize he was bullied to death and not let his death be in vain. He basically sacrificed himself to get his side of the story out. Don't brush it under t

By: Birdmeat on 3/4/12 at 7:32

Lizzie, I hope you come back to read this. Thank you, it took courage and resolve to say that. The Tennessean articles were a disgrace, with headers like" a Puzzle and a mystery" when it's not a mystery at all. He left a note to the community (the spray painted message) and apparently a letter detailing exactly why he did this. As a "suicide survivor" (one who has lost a family member to suicide), I can't even begin to express my disgust at the way our society still handles these tragedies. You don't "brush it under". indeed. You make it as public as possible. After my siblings death, they hid everything from the community and for good reason, to protect all those involved who had used her. She had been an incest victim among other "evidence" that was never sought out or collected. My father literally bullied her to death as well, berating her after the lifetime of abuse for being "ungrateful". There is almost always a reason, and almost always others who contributed to that persons state of mind. The poor Man, the anguish and hurt someone must have been causing him. I hope they are satisfied. RIP

The press in this town is a disgrace. A town full of writers and you manage to either over report, under report, or mangle the news. Congratulations on another horrible job not done.

By: SteveTN on 3/4/12 at 10:50

Michael was a nice man. Definitely tormented and overwhelmed. I was a frequent visitor to the Cool Springs location. Most recenly last week. He stopped by to say "hi" and we talked for a few minutes. He told me about the divorce and how he wasn't able to see his step son anymore. He also told me that he had poured his heart into the two restaurants. I liked him. He was very genuine and gregarious. We talked about my business and I told him I would be back to see him soon. He gave me a hug goodbye. It won't be the same there without seeing him racing around. I really would have enjoyed becoming friends with the man and bringing my kids in there when they were a little older. All I can say is god bless him and may he rest in peace. His step son should know that he absolutely cared about him.

By: SteveTN on 3/4/12 at 10:54

I think that they should interview the employees to find out how special he was.

By: Birdmeat on 3/5/12 at 11:09

The community deserves answers. Nobody is saying what needs to be said. There are two things that are everyones business , child molestation and very public Suicides. His last wishes were for everyone to know his anguish. Well then, where are the people respecting that? Nobody, so far, with the guts to step up. I want to know how a "tormented, overwhelmed Man" got that way in the space of a year from his former self. I think some of us can guess, but that's not enough. This very much finalizes my little "stay" in Nashville of a decade. Made an appointment with a Realtor today and the sign is up. I'm done .

By: hurtinva on 3/5/12 at 12:36

We were with his mother when she heard the tragic news of his death. Can anyone imagine the wailing pain of a mother to have to receive that call. He was a wonderful son and we're all in shock. We have a lot of respect for Michael. I hope the respect is paid back in the form of granting his last wishes of what he wanted heard. Much pain has been caused that far exceeds the circle of Nashville.

By: Funditto on 3/5/12 at 9:40

Well said Shane Smiley.

By: dargent7 on 3/6/12 at 5:10

These sad, sad stories are all across America. A 42 year old guy, getting a divorce, kills himself. Unbelievable. When I was 42 I moved to Maui, Hawai'i with $5,000. That's it. Life can always start over. I find it unfathomable he didn't have any family or friends that he could talk to. At least he didn't kill the ex-wife or his kids, too. Too many times the guy kills everyone before killing himself.
He was in pain, but wasn't completely insane.

By: NilsOrion on 3/6/12 at 6:44

I'm 65 and this is one of the saddest stories I've ever read.

By: Jughead on 3/6/12 at 8:54

No woman or business is worth suicide. Period.

Dude needed to step back and say "F*&^k it Walter, let's roll."

By: Scottie2240 on 3/6/12 at 10:47

It is certainly clear that there is more to this story than we know. This poor soul was DRIVEN to this, it did not just happen. People are not always what they seem and often we deal with sheep in wolves clothing. I think a suicide note would be very telling and understand that there is, in fact, one such letter. I believe this man was being honest from his heart and soul..obviously things he needed to disclose before he died. Have the police seen any security camera video? That would be one of the first things I would want to do if I were investigating.
I truly believe he was tortured and treated unfairly in his life and think the public needs to know. No human being would do this without something or someone hurting them to a point of no return. It is horrific!! Blessings on his soul and to all those he loved and who loved HIM.

By: Scottie2240 on 3/6/12 at 10:48

I agree completely with the comments of Birdmeat and Izzie. We deserve to know the real truth!!!

By: fightcrib on 3/8/12 at 11:32

This guy was a former Belmont student. Was there any word of whether he was coked out when he committed the crime?

By: fightcrib on 3/8/12 at 11:34

I disagree with the vandalism. This is only going to hold Nashville back.

By: I honestly know on 3/9/12 at 12:50

Miranda is a fraud, she did nothing to make Burger Up successful, she drove Mike to the brink of despair. She is an cheater, with men and women, she is a liar, she only cares about herself and her money. She is a unfit mother and human being. Mike's finaly email to his friend laid out her despicable vicous behavior. I will never spend one think nickle with anything Miranda Whitcomb Pontes ownes. She is not worth the dirty off the bottom of your feet. She is an absentee parent to her son, and unfaithful spouce to both of her Husband's and brought her BOYFRIEND to her Husband's funeral, who does that? Show some respect for Michael by boycottig BURGER UP, don't give that women one nickle of your hard earned money! ~ someone who has know her for years, and I don't like what I have witnessed.

By: I honestly know on 3/9/12 at 12:55

Miranda drove Mike to sucide by chating on him and stealing from their business. She is a heartless cold devil. Maybe Kay West can be her next victim I mean spouse.

By: I honestly know on 3/9/12 at 12:58

once a cheater ALWAYS a cheater = Miranda Whitcomb Pontes (read his sucide note, Miranda took his pride, dignity, money, credit for Mike's hard work, then took his step son away. She is not human or a decent human being. I say BOYCOTT her restaurants BURGER P on 12th and Cool Springs. Show her your disgust for her with the only thing she cares about YOUR MONEY!!!

By: Scottie2240 on 3/13/12 at 5:34

I honestly know..seems to have hit the nail on the head. You seem to know the real story. It's such a shame that so many people do not.
I'll bet she is playing the "poor widow" card....what a joke!

By: Scottie2240 on 3/13/12 at 5:52

Michaels final wishes were that the community support and love his step- sons Father and step-Mother. He had a great love for the child and having him taken away was too much to bear. He had genuine concern for his welfare, that was evident in his letter. I, for one, will honor those wishes.

By: Scottie2240 on 3/13/12 at 6:12

At Michaels Memorial Service.....this was the observation. His little step-son seen sitting in the back all alone while the "Mother" socialized. Next thing you see is his Step-Mom and his Dad arriving and finding him all alone. Thank God for them...they sat with him during this traumatic time and showed love and support to him. The "Mother" finally sent someone to get him when the service was almost over! This is appalling!!!! Dear Michael...I understand completely what you were trying to tell us.

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