A well-known gay activist was beaten to death in Halifax early Tuesday morning, and a man who was out on a pass from a psychiatric facility is charged with his murder.
Raymond Taavel, 49, is believed to have been trying to break up a fight outside of Menz and Mollyz Bar when one of the men turned on him.
A witness, told CBC News that he saw a large man attack two smaller men. After one man fled the large man slammed the other man's head into the street.
Police were called about an assault around 2:40 a.m. and found the victim lying in the street. Paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene.
"A witness called police after he noticed a man lying on the ground bleeding and observed a person fleeing the area," stated Halifax Regional Police in a news release. " The witness was able to provide information to police that assisted HRP Canine in locating a man hiding in a nearby alley."
Andre Noel Denny, 32, who left the East Coast Forensic Unit at 7:30 p.m. for a one-hour leave and failed to return, is now facing a charge of second degree murder.
In September 2009 Denny was arrested after cutting the throat of a neighbour's three-month old puppy, resulting in injuries so bad it was euthanized, and threatening to cut his neighbour's throats while they were sleeping. In 2011 he was charged with aggravated sexual assault of a woman, unlawfully confining her and uttering threats. At that time police used a Taser following a seven-hour standoff.
Doctors have described Denny as having a history of aggressiveness, suffering from delusions, and having a long history of schizophrenia, paranoid subtype.
Taavel had been an organizer for Pride Week in Halifax, was an editor for Wayves magazine and worked as the assistant circulation manager at Shambhala Sun.
“He was a prominent member of our community,” former municipal councillor and Halifax Pride chairwoman Krista Snow told The Chronicle Herald.
“He probably has had a hand in most of the gay organizations in Halifax.”
Wayves publisher Daniel MacKay told The Chronicle Herald that Taaval was "committed to the welfare of the society as a whole and to the gay and lesbian community.”
Gay Halifax quoted Taaval as saying, "It's a big world out there; on so many levels there's much that needs to be done."
A Facebook page has been set up called Rainbow in Your Window for Raymond Taavel , another called Remember Raymond Taavel, and hundreds turned out for a vigil in his memory in Halifax Tuesday evening.