Homeless man killed in N.S. bus shelter fire

(I offer this without comment in its entirety – Drak)

Vigil for homeless N.S. manCTVNews.ca Staff
Published Saturday, October 26, 2013 11:18AM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, October 26, 2013 9:32PM EDT

A vigil was held Saturday evening for a homeless man who was killed in a fire inside a Nova Scotia bus shelter, an incident that remains the subject of an RCMP investigation.

A few hundred people attended the candlelight vigil, which was held outside the grocery store in the rural community of Berwick, N.S., to remember Harvey Lawrence. 

CTV Atlantic’s Nick Ritcey said before the vigil, the grocery store planned to shut down half an hour early to serve coffee to those in attendance.

Chaplain John Andrew, who runs the Open Arms emergency shelter, knew the 62-year-old man. He addressed the crowd on Saturday evening.

“May our hearts go out to those who struggled to fit into society,” Andrew said. 

Earlier Saturday, he said the vigil would not be a time to dwell on Lawrence’s death, but an opportunity to celebrate his life.

“I think some people genuinely were really touched by him, just through a ‘hello’ or giving him a coffee. I think we all see ourselves in broken people and Harley was a broken person,” said Andrew, who will be presiding over Lawrence’s funeral next week.

Police have called Lawrence’s death “suspicious,” but investigators have yet to release results from an autopsy that took place Thursday. 

Shannon Taylor, a woman who was delivering newspapers early Wednesday morning, said she spotted two young men carrying a container of gasoline heading toward the site approximately 10 minutes before the fire began.

Taylor said the two men appeared to be in their late teens or early 20s. She said she saw them fill a jug with gas at a station near the bus shelter. Taylor said she told police that the two men ran in the direction of the bus shelter after having pumped and paid for the gas. 

Taylor said she thought she saw a pile of leaves burning before realizing that the man, whom she had often see sitting outside the local Tim Hortons, or wandering down the street, was on fire.

Lawrence was sleeping in a bus shelter that morning when the fire started. The RCMP has not said if the fire was accidental.

Berwick Mayor Don Clarke told the Canadian Press that a number of residents in the community of 2,500 did not like the fact that Lawrence had come to the town about six months earlier. 

Clarke said he fielded a number of phone calls from residents who wanted to know if anything could be done to force Lawrence to leave.

Ritcey said that since Lawrence’s death, the bus shelter where he would frequently spend his nights has turned into a memorial, with flowers being laid at the site daily.

“Everybody in the town knew who he was, they’d see him on their daily commute so he became a staple in the community in the last six months,” Ritcey told CTV News Channel on Saturday. 

Berwick resident John McMahon said he’s glad to see “that something’s being done to sort of commemorate Harley.”

“I noticed in the news people are talking about homelessness a lot more than they were even two weeks ago and that’s not a bad thing,” McMahon said.

With files from The Canadian Press


About Drakakis

Street Poet scribbling to your tired, your poor, your huddled masses; the wretched refuse of your teeming shore, the homeless, tempest-tost ...
This entry was posted in Bigotry, Death, Homeless, Violence and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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