Gay activist killed in assault in Halifax, police have suspect in custody

HALIFAX - A co-worker says a man killed near a Halifax downtown bar early Tuesday morning was a prominent activist in the city's gay community.

Barry Boyce, a senior writer at the Shambhala Sun magazine, says police came to his office and said Raymond Taavel had been killed outside the Menz Bar on Gottingen Street.

"We're ... absorbing this shock," he said. "Raymond was just such a lovely person. He was an activist without anger."

Police say they have a suspect in custody after a witness found the victim lying on the street and gave officers a description of a person who was seen running from the area.

A 32-year-old man was found in a nearby alley and taken into custody.

Nova Scotia Justice Minister Ross Landry says the man in custody was reported overdue from East Coast Forensic Hospital, a local psychiatric unit.

Landry says police were informed by security personnel at the forensic unit that the man was past his curfew on a day pass.

"My understanding is when he was past the curfew for returning, within 15 minutes, in that range, the police were notified and were already having patrol cars dispatched to look for the gentleman," he said.

Police say the victim died from his injuries at the scene.

Boyce said Taavel had been an assistant circulation manager at the magazine and was a prominent activist in the gay community.

He wrote for Wayves Magazine and worked with gay organizations both provincially and nationally.

Boyce described Boyce as a deeply reflective Christian who lived by the biblical saying of "love thy neighbour."

"We're in shock and sadness. We gathered around, talked about Raymond for a while and we're not doing any business today," he said.

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