The family of a man originally from Toronto is grieving after the 38-year-old was fatally shot just outside his home in Belize Wednesday night.

Gabriel Bochnia is being remembered as a devoted father, beloved son and brother, his sister, Kate Bochnia, told CBC News.

"He was known for his big heart, always willing to assist those in need," said Bochnia's sister, who lives in Toronto. "His loss is a horrific blow to our family and friends and we are devastated."

Bochnia was returning to his family's home in the Chula Vista area of the seaside town of Corozal with his wife and their three children when he was shot, Belize police spokesperson Raphael Martinez said.

Martinez said Bochnia had gotten out of his vehicle to open the gate when a man with a rag over his face emerged from behind the bushes, shooting Bochnia in the abdomen. 

He died in hospital. 

Martinez says Bochnia's wife — 27-year-old Jeshanah Maritza-Zetina — and the children were not injured and the attacker fled.

Martinez could not say how long Bochnia had lived in Belize, adding that the investigation is in its early stages.

Bochnia's death comes just five months after another Ontario resident was murdered in the Central American country.

In a statement to CBC News, Global Affairs Canada said it is in contact with local authorities to gather more information and is ready to provide consular assistance to the family.

"Our thoughts are with the family and friends of the Canadian citizen who passed away in Belize," spokesperson Brianne Maxwell said. 

"I pray he's so happy, wrapped in a blanket of God's love," Bochnia's sister wrote in a Facebook post announcing his death.

"Gabriel, you have been an angel on earth and you are our angel in Heaven. Rest in peace my baby brother."

With files from The Canadian Press