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Employees raising money for Nanaimo coffee house after co-worker’s alleged murder

79-year-old died Saturday, 29-year-old charged with 2nd-degree murder
A 79-year-old Buzz Coffee House employee who died Saturday, Feb. 13, was well-loved by co-workers. (Photo courtesy Madi Landry)

Employees at a Nanaimo coffee shop where an alleged murder happened this past weekend are trying to raise money to help the business owners however they can.

A 79-year-old Buzz Coffee House employee died Saturday, Feb. 13, “in a horrible incident that no one could have planned and occurred inside of the café,” noted a GoFundMe set up by employee Kyah Hands.

A 29-year-old who was arrested at the scene has been charged with second-degree murder after what Nanaimo RCMP referred to as a “random incident with a tragic outcome.”

Hands said the co-owners of the business approved the fundraiser and want the community to know that it was a “member of the Buzz Coffee House family” who died, though they preferred not to identify him by name for now.

Hands said she’s hoping money raised can cover things like funeral costs, counselling and employee wages.

“I don’t know if they’re even going to be re-opening … not for the foreseeable future … so they have a lot to figure out,” she said.

Hands said the employee who died was well-loved by his co-workers.

“We all called him our grandpa and we all loved him so much. He was like a family member to all of us,” she said.

He did baking, banking, ordering, grocery runs, “absolutely everything,” and hadn’t taken a day off in more than a year, Hands said.

“He was the most hard-working, dedicated man we probably all ever met,” she said.

Customers knew him, too, and even though he was in the kitchen most of the time, “he’d peek his head out, everyone would wave at him and the whole room would light up.”

RELATED: Suspect facing 2nd-degree murder charge after man’s death at Nanaimo coffee house

Hands said employees are traumatized and are having trouble sleeping and walking even short distances alone, and can’t imaging the thought of working an opening shift at their next job, whatever that might be.

“It’s been shocking. It’s been really, really hard for everybody,” she said. “I think a lot of us haven’t even really processed what’s happened yet because you could never imagine it happening, especially to someone that you care about so much in a place that you go to work every day.”

To view or donate to the GoFundMe, visit

RELATED: Man found dead in Nanaimo business, case being investigated as homicide

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About the Author: Greg Sakaki

I have been in the community newspaper business for two decades, all of those years with Black Press Media.
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