The family of an Eastport man who was shot and killed during a home invasion last week is still reeling from the traumatic loss, though donations from friends, neighbors and strangers has helped ease its financial burden.
Francisco Pirir, 45, was killed by a shotgun blast to the face after two masked men forcibly entered his home on East Moriches Boulevard and announced a robbery early in the morning on Sunday, December 8.
Suffolk County Police Homicide Squad detectives have not yet made any arrests in connection to the murder that also injured Mr. Pirir’s uncle. Lieutenant Jack Fitzpatrick, the commanding officer of the Homicide Squad, said detectives would not release any additional information—including a possible motive for the shooting—until an arrest is made.
A migrant landscaper, Mr. Pirir lived in the small rental home with six other men, according to police. He leaves behind four young children in his native Guatemala.
With donations pouring in from throughout Long Island, the North Fork Spanish Apostolate was able to raise more than $6,000 to cover funeral costs and the price of transporting Mr. Pirir’s body more than 2,000 miles back to his home country, according to Sister Margaret Smyth, the director of the Riverhead nonprofit.
Sister Smyth said thanks to multiple news articles about the incident, word about her fundraising effort circulated quickly and drew support from all around the island.
“Having seen it in newspapers people have been responding wonderfully,” she said on Monday. “I even got today an envelope from Brooklyn from someone who’d seen it in the papers. We have money coming that will help support the family; the funeral is covered, so that is good.”
Sister Smyth said a wake will be held Thursday evening at the Coster-Heppner Funeral Home on Marcy Avenue in Riverhead and the body will be taken to Guatemala shortly after that.
Without Mr. Pirir’s income, she noted, it will likely be difficult for his family to send his children to school, which costs about $50 per child annually. But with the entire cost of the wake and transportation of the body covered, the remainder of money donated will go to Mr. Pirir’s family.
A pair of local business owners has taken the lead on this leg of the fundraising effort.
Larry and Toni Citarelli, owners of Citarelli’s Gourmet Deli on Montauk Highway, which is across the street from Mr. Pirir’s house, took up a collection in the store by placing a plastic jug near the checkout counter with signs soliciting donations for the family.
Within a few days the jug racked up more than $600, Mr. Citarelli said. By Monday the total climbed to more than $1,000, he estimated.
“It’s just a really sad story, but people in this town really came together to help his family out,” Mr. Citarelli said.
“People have been very generous,” his wife added. “And it’s all from local people.”
Mr. Citarelli said Mr. Pirir, his brothers and the other men living in the house were always helpful. “If they saw you shoveling snow they’d offer to help,” the long-time store owner said, adding that they were all regulars at the deli, taking refuge under the shade of their patio on hot days and occasionally making phone calls home from the store.
According to Brookhaven Town records, the house that was robbed belongs to Gregory and Mary Boussios of Deer Park and is not a licensed rental property. An adjacent house on the property is also illegal, according to town officials. The 0.8-acre property is zoned for commercial use, but houses two residences as well as two commercial properties.
No citations have been issued to the Boussioses, but the property is being investigated by Brookhaven Town building and law inspectors, according to Kevin Molloy, a spokesman for the municipality.
Suffolk Police have described both intruders as thin and standing about 5-feet 11-inches tall. They fled the scene on foot after the shooting. Police have not confirmed what, if anything, was taken during the robbery.