Nanaimo coffee shop owner hopes person who killed his grandfather gets help

Eric Kutzner, left, received a Governor General's volunteer award for his work in 2015.

The co-owner of Buzz Coffee House in Nanaimo says he hopes the person who killed his grandfather gets the help he needs.

Philip Baker says his grandfather, Eric Kutzner, would’ve wanted the same.

“Eric would want him to get the help that he deserves and needs. I know he and I were champions for mental health and the fact that as a country we don’t do a whole lot to support folks who desperately need it,” said Baker.

On Saturday police got a call to check on the well-being of someone inside. When they arrived they found 79-year-old Kutzner dead in the kitchen. They found 29-year-old James Turok also inside and arrested him. Turok is now charged with second-degree murder.

Baker says Kutzner was constantly getting the shop ready in the morning but never getting paid for it.

“We kept telling him to actually retire cause once he got the Order of Canada it was like where do you go from here? That was the third time he tried to retire,” said Baker.

Baker co-owns The Buzz with his mother and he doesn’t know what happened but says he wouldn’t be surprised if his grandfather was trying to help Turok.

“My grandpa was that kind of man. We were talking all the time about things we could do for people who were sleeping out under our patio and so that could’ve been what happened. Eric let him in for a cup of coffee and…” said Baker.

Baker says he doesn’t believe he had ever seen the accused before but suspects that whatever happened, mental health was a factor.

The shop has remained closed since the killing and Baker says some staff feel unsure whether they can return. A staff member has started a GoFundMe that has raised more than $11,000. Baker says the community support has been wonderful.

“My phone going off like every three seconds and everyone’s offering whatever they can but it really means a lot, especially for my mom. It’s good to know that there are a lot of folks that really care about her,” said Baker.

Baker says his grandfather was a people person, he liked trying new things and his death will be mourned by many.

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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