Thunder Bay·Audio

Rene Sortolovo, Thunder Bay murder victim, remembered at vigil

Nearly 100 members of the Hispanic community in Thunder Bay crowded into the front lawn of a Marks Street house on Sunday to remember their friend who was killed there.

'You don't think something like that can happen to a guy with the big heart he had'

Mourners set up a memorial on the steps leading into the home where Rene Sortolovo was killed. (Jody Porter/CBC)
Thunder Bay's Hispanic community held a vigil outside the home where Rene Sortolovo was murdered. We'll hear from one of his closest friends.

Nearly 100 members of the Hispanic community in Thunder Bay crowded into the front lawn of a Marks Street house on Sunday to remember their friend who was killed there.

Rene Sortolovo's body was found in his apartment on Oct. 19. Police have charged two people with murder. They believe robbery was the motive.

"He was a good man, a good father and this tragic situation is...really bad," said Carlos Miranda, who arrived in Thunder Bay from Cuba five years ago, and received help from Sortolovo to settle in.
Carlos (left), Carrie and Marcus Miranda were among the families who attended a vigil for Rene Sortolovo at the Marks Street home where he was murdered. (Jody Porter/CBC)

Miranda said he attended the vigil "to say the last good-bye to my best friend and God keep him in a good place up there because he deserves it."

Sortolovo, 51, was remembered as a good father to his three daughters; a hard-worker for a local roofing company and a trusted friend. He was originally from El Salvador.

"You don't think something like that can happen to a guy with the big heart he had," said Humberto Calderon. 

"I still don't what happened," he added, pointing to Sortolovo's van, still parked in the driveway. "He was good to everyone."
Hand-made signs in honour of Rene Sortolovo, whose body was found in his Marks Street home on Oct. 19. (Jody Porter/CBC)

'Everybody is kind of scared'

Maria Martinez helped organize the vigil and said she knew Sortolovo as a dedicated volunteer with the Thunder Bay Multicultural Association, and a good role model for other immigrants.

She said about 80 families make up the city's Hispanic community, and they remain in shock over Sortolovo's death.

"Everybody is kind of scared, of course, that even in your home you are not safe," Martinez said. "So you have to lock your doors very well and stay alert all the time because what's going on, can happen to anybody​."

Martinez said a funeral is planned for Sortolovo in Thunder Bay as soon as family members in El Salvador can arrange visas to travel to Canada.

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