A chiropractor gunned down in his Burlington clinic last week is being remembered as "the biggest smile in the room" and a loving man who cared deeply about his family, friends and community.
Dr. Ferdinand "Fred" Mejilla, a father of five, died in hospital from gunshot wounds after the shooting on March 16. A memorial service was held for him at a Mississauga church on Saturday morning.
Family and friends paid their respects to Mejilla, describing him as a kind man who helped others whenever he could.
"There's a hole in our hearts today," Dr. Johanna Carlo, a former classmate, said after the memorial service at Merciful Redeemer Parish. "Today is a day about acceptance, which has led to gratitude for a lot of us, and hopefully, we can find our way to forgiveness."
Carlo, who knew him for 25 years, said she went to school with Mejilla at Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa.
"Fred was special because he inspired you to be better. He offered help when he could. He met challenges in life with grace and charisma and passion. He was positive to a fault, biggest smile in the room," she said.
She said he mentored young people in the chiropractic community and helped people in the Filipino community in Mississauga and Oakville.
"He was always ready and available to help," she said.
Vivian Degarbo, a friend who knew him for many years, said Mejilla will be deeply missed.
"Fred was special because he was so kind and loving and devoted to his family and his patients. He was always there for you," she said.
"He always had a smile on his face and made everything happy. It's really heartbreaking, it really is."
Albert Cruz, who attended the service, said Mejilla came from an educated, professional family in the Philippines.
"When he was a kid, he studied really hard. His parents supported him," he said.
Halton Regional Police Service said Mejilla was the owner and operator of the clinic at 195 Plains Road East in Burlington where the shooting occurred.
In a news release on Monday, police said a suspect in the killing, David Williamson, 44, of Burlington, died in hospital of a self-inflicted gunshot wound following the shooting. Homicide investigators are continuing to investigate the deaths.
Williamson was a one-time former patient whose wife worked as an office secretary at Mejilla's clinic.
After the service, mourners released white balloons into the air.
According to an online obituary, Mejilla is survived by his five children and their mother, Lorie Mejilla.