The brothers of an Eastport landscaper fatally shot during a burglary attempt began raising money Monday to send their sibling's body to the family's native Guatemala for burial.
Francisco Pirir, 45, described as a skilled and diligent worker by his employers, was killed by two masked burglars who burst into the small, two-story East Moriches Boulevard home he shared with his brothers and several others at 3:34 a.m. Sunday, Suffolk police said.
Sister Margaret Smyth, director of the nonprofit North Fork Spanish Apostolate, said she was assisting the men.
The brothers, who were at the nonprofit's Riverhead offices Monday, declined to comment, but through Smyth described Pirir as a married father of four, who left his family in search of work about four years ago.
"He spent most of his time working and sending money home to his family," said Smyth, who said the brothers planned to place donation cups in local convenience stores to pay for travel and funeral costs. She said donations could also be addressed to her and mailed to the Apostolate, 220 Roanoke Ave., Riverhead, N.Y. 11901.
Police said Monday they are still investigating the killing and had no further statements. No arrests have been made.
An East End dentist who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he feared for his family's safety described Pirir as hardworking, punctual and trustworthy. Through tears, he said Pirir had done masonry, painted rooms, helped install a pool and did other work at his home.
"In my eyes he was an estate manager," the man said. "He did everything . . . he was unbelievably talented. He was a stand-up guy. We lost a great person."
Julio Castaneda, 37, who lives next door to Pirir, said he heard gunshots and saw two masked, armed men running from the house to a red truck that sped off. He said some of the home's occupants said they were moving. "Maybe I'll move, too," said Castaneda. "It's dangerous here now."
At Citarelli's Gourmet Delicatessen and Meat Market across the street from Pirir's home, owner Toni Citarelli said Pirir and his roommates shopped at the store daily, buying phone cards, coffee and hot meals.
In the summer months, she said, the men would play soccer on their front lawn. "They were very nice," Citarelli said.
Outside Pirir's house, several pairs of tan work boots sat on a small cabinet next to the front door, which was splattered with what appeared to be blood.
A handwritten note inside a card on a large plant placed outside the home read in Spanish and English, "Francisco: You'll always be in our hearts. We will miss you friend."