AUSTIN (KXAN) — An Austin man who traveled to Haiti to bring supplies to the village he grew up in was killed shortly after landing at the Port-au-Prince airport.
Christian Daniel, 65, arrived in Haiti on Aug. 13 and left the airport in a taxi. Less than 20 minutes later, the car was surrounded by gunmen who killed him.
His family believes someone knew he was coming, and wanted him dead.
“He was unafraid to give, he wanted people to know he was coming, and if they needed resources, they knew where to find him,” said his niece Vanessa Bissereth.
The murder happened in front of Daniel’s sister, who was in the car at the time of the murder. She told Daniel’s family back in Austin that the gunmen didn’t rob Daniel, but instead took his clothes and left him for dead.
His family believes the men killed Daniel out of spite for what he’d accomplished back in Austin, where he moved to from Haiti in 1994.
Daniel’s mother still lived in the village where he was headed and planned to host a barbeque for them when he arrived.
“He said, ‘Well I’m going to call all the people on the mountain to come down to my village to eat with me,'” said his sister, Loremise Larosier.
In late July, the U.S. State Department released a travel advisory for Haiti, telling citizens to reconsider travel to the area.
“Travelers are sometimes targeted, followed, and violently attacked and robbed shortly after leaving the Port-au-Prince international airport,” said the advisory.
It adds that the U.S. Embassy prohibits personnel from “using any kind of public transportation or taxis.”
Daniel’s family members in Austin are now trying to raise money to help bring his body back to the states. They’ve started a GoFundMe page that’s brought in more than $8,000 of the $25,000 they’re attempting to raise.
His family describes him as giving caring and opening.
“That’s just the way he was, that’s just the way God made him,” Bissereth said.
Daniel spent more than 20 years working at Westminster, a senior living facility in Austin. In 2016, he received the Westminster Communities Devotion Award for his long-term dedication and commitment to the facility’s residents and his coworkers.
“Christian was one of our best employees,” said Charles Borst, executive director at Westminster. “He always had a smile on his face and brighten everyone’s day. He was a true gentleman who loved his job and the residents. He always put others needs before his own.”
Borst went on to say, “his loss will be felt by all of us. Our prayers and thoughts are with his wife Vesta who also is a wonderful employee of ours and their family during this terrible time.”