A 79-year-old man killed at random at a Nanaimo coffee shop was a “champion” for disabled people as well as seniors, his family said in a statement released by RCMP Wednesday.
Eric Kutzner was found dead at the Buzz Coffee House in Nanaimo on Feb. 12. Nanaimo resident James Turok, 29, has been charged with second-degree murder in his death.
Kutzner’s family, who have asked for privacy, said he “truly cared” about family and friends and was a “smiling face” who made muffins and almond croissants every morning for patrons of the coffee house.
“Eric was a vibrant member of society. He volunteered and was a champion for the disabled in Creston B.C. and for senior’s housing in Nanaimo,” they said in the statement.
In fact, Kutzner was bestowed a Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award in 2015 for his work in Creston.
According to the awards page, Kutzner helped restore a property that housed and employed people with developmental and physical disabilities.
“He has dedicated numerous hours towards making it a viable farm, producing vegetables and eggs to be sold at the local market, raising sheep for wool, and establishing a food processing plant for drying fruits and vegetables,” the site reads.
Kutzner’s family says in the statement that he made new friends every day in his travels around the Harbour City.
“His family misses him terribly,” they wrote.
Officers who discovered the victim’s body on Saturday said Turok was located inside the business and taken into police custody immediately.
Vida Turok, the mother of the accused, said Monday in a message to CHEK News: “I am in shock and at this point, I have no idea what actually happened… All I know is James is in custody. I feel tremendous sadness for everyone concerned. My heart aches for the family of the victim and my son.”
Turok has been remanded into police custody to await his next court appearance, which is scheduled for Feb. 21.
A coworker has started a gofundme to help the family with expenses as the Buzz Coffee House has remained closed while the family deals with the tragedy.