Ontario businessman slain in roadside robbery in Brazil

A businessman from Leamington, Ont., has been killed during a roadside robbery in Brazil.
The farming community of Leamington, Ont., is in shock after local agri-businessman Dean Tiessen was shot and killed in Brazil 2:24

An Ontario businessman has been killed during a roadside robbery in Brazil.

The robbery reportedly occurred Saturday, when a vehicle carrying the victim and his business partners was stopped on the road, according to an account in a Brazilian newspaper. The ensuing attack saw the Canadian victim shot twice.

CBC News has confirmed that Dean Tiessen, a businessman from Leamington, Ont., is the victim.

A Foreign Affairs spokesperson told CBC News in an emailed statement on Sunday that the government had learned of the death of a Canadian in Brazil and was providing consular assistance to family and friends.

Tiessen, who was the president of the Leamington-based New Energy Farms, was in Brazil for a business trip.

The news of his death shocked those who knew him back home.

"It’s been a tragedy for us and the entire family. It’s a tremendous loss for the community," Tiessen's cousin Ken Enns said. "Dean was the most mild mannered person you could ever know."

Tiessen is married and a father of four "lively little children," all younger than 12, according to Enns.

"This is such a tragedy for all of us," Enns said.

Dean Tiessen was the president of Leamington, Ont.-based New Energy Farms. (New Energy Farms)

Ed Regher had known Tiessen since childhood. Regher has friends with Tiessen's parents for 50 years.

"I watched him grow up. To lose someone like that is awful. He was such a nice person. You just can’t believe someone would murder a person like that," Regher said. "He was always a gentleman. He would never ignore anyone. He was an entrepreneur and he wanted to do more."

Regher said Tiessen's business was "starting to make great strides."

New Energy Farms grew miscanthus and other crops used in biomass feedstock and plastic.

"It was something Leamington could really benefit from," Enns said.

Leamington Mayor John Paterson says he had some dealings with Tiessen. He recently toured Tiessen's operation.

 "I feel terrible for his wife and kids. This is just awful, awful news to be receiving, especially at this time, any time of the year I guess, really," Paterson said. "The Mennonite community is large in Leamington, and the Tiessen family is well spread across this whole municipality and area. I'm sure this is just hitting an awful lot of people."

Vic Winter, the pastor of the Leamington United Mennonite Church, told his congregation about Tiessen’s death on Sunday.

The church is planning a memorial service.

David Sparling, the chair of the Agri-Food Innovation and the Ivey School of Business, said Tiessen was very active in the business community.

“He was always generous with time, ideas and enthusiasm,” Sparling told CBC News.

With a report from the CBC's Amy Dodge