Like 'a knife stuck in your heart': Dozens gather to mourn father shot near rail tracks

Dozens of people gathered along the railway tracks near Selkirk Avenue and McPhillips Street Thursday evening to say a prayer and lay some flowers for a man who was shot and killed there a week ago.

Joselito Fernadez, 53, was found unresponsive with a gunshot wound in the early morning hours last Thursday

A vigil was held Thursday evening to remember 53-year-old Joselito Fernandez who was shot and killed last week. (Travis Golby/CBC)

Dozens of people gathered along the railway tracks near Selkirk Avenue and McPhillips Street Thursday evening to say a prayer and lay some flowers for a man who was shot and killed there a week ago.

Last Thursday morning when Melinda Mohammed's bus was re-routed around police tape that was blocking Selkirk Avenue she didn't think much of it.

"My heart jumped, I said, 'Oh what could this be?'" she said.

It wasn't until later in the day she got news that something had happened to her younger brother, Joselito Fernandez, known to family as Lito.

"[My brother] told me that something happened to Lito."

Melinda Mohammed, Fernandez's sister, said she hopes to find justice for her brother. (Holly Caruk/CBC)

She later learned the police tape she saw was surrounding the scene where her brother was found with a gunshot wound just after 3 in the morning.

The 53-year-old was found unresponsive near the CP tracks and was taken to hospital but died.

"It's just like you have a knife stuck in your heart," said Mohammed.

Thursday evening's vigil was the first time Mohammed visited the spot along the tracks where her brother was found.

"Right now, it's difficult because we haven't seen him, and the investigation is still going," said Mohammed.

"We want to get closure."

'They are not alone'

Mohammed said the news has been hard on family, especially Fernadez's two daughters. He also has six siblings and a grandchild and family in the Philippines.

Fernandez came to Canada nearly 30 years ago and worked various jobs over the years. Most recently he was working at a restaurant and staying with a friend not far from where he was killed, his sister said.

The family is now trying to raise money for a funeral and started an online fundraiser to help with costs.

Flowers were left alongside the rail tracks near where Fernandez was found. (Holly Caruk/CBC)

The vigil was organized by the 204 Neighbourhood Watch group, which is made up of members from the city's Filipino community.

"It's our way of making the family feel that they are not alone," said Leila Castro, the group's founder.

"It's not easy to be an immigrant when something like this happens, the first thing that you feel is that you are alone.

"It's in our culture that we come together when a misfortune happens."

Leila Castro, the founder of the 204 Neighbourhood Watch group, said she wanted to organize the vigil for the family so they would not feel alone. (Travis Golby/CBC)

Mohammed described her brother as a hard worker who was very kind and quiet.

"He'll have a big smile all the time, you never seen him mad," said Mohammed.

"It is sad that he had to go this way."

Community 'not at peace'

Castro said it's been hard for the community given the recent death of Jamie Adao, a 17-year-old who was killed in what police say was a random home invasion last month.

She said hearing about what happened to Fernandez brought more hurt.

"It's hard to accept that an innocent victim will just be killed like that," said Castro.

"It's just so sad, that [Fenandez died] in a violent way. The family is not at peace, the community is not at peace, we also feel that even him … his soul is not at peace."

The family hopes to get answers about what happened to Fernandez, who leaves behind two daughters, a grandchild and six siblings. (Holly Caruk/CBC)

Police put out a plea last week asking the public for information or video surveillance footage of the area.

The family hopes that anyone who may have seen or heard anything will come forward and speak to police.

"We just want to get justice," said Mohammed.

Joselito Fernandez, 53, was found with a gunshot wound near the railway tracks on Selkirk Avenue last Thursday. (Submitted by Judy Cook)