Mourners lined a Costa Rican beach at sunrise on Saturday, waving Canadian flags and tossing tropical flowers into the ocean where a Toronto-area teacher was fatally stabbed last week.

Costa Rican police say Bruce McCallum was trying to snap a photograph of that same sunrise when he was mugged and stabbed to death.

Last week, the Toronto District School Board confirmed McCallum, a math teacher on sabbatical from his job at Albert Campbell Collegiate Institute in Scarborough, Ont., died in the central American country.

Media reports in Costa Rica say McCallum was fatally stabbed in the town of Puerto Viejo early on March 5.

Dozens gathered along the spot where the 58-year-old was killed, linking hands and raising them to the sky towards the scene he died trying to capture.

“Everyone was very touched … it was very spontaneous,” memorial organizer Lucas Iturriza told CTV Toronto.

McCallum was remembered as an avid photographer and traveller. Many who attended the memorial clutched cameras as they paid their respects.

An online invitation to Saturday’s event read, “We are going to take that photograph of the dawn that Bruce wanted to take from our beloved Caribbean and which, tragically, took his life.”

One person who attended the ceremony Tweeted: “This morning, a tribute to Bruce McCallum, #PuertoViejo community united against this wave of violence.”

Police in Costa Rica have arrested a man in connection with a similar robbery, but local authorities have not linked the incident with McCallum’s death. They are said to be in possession of grainy video footage of the suspect and to have sent a knife found at the scene away for testing.

Iturriza says McCallum’s death has shaken the community. He lives a kilometre away from where the slaying took place and says area has seen a surge of violent crimes.

“It could happen to anyone, anywhere,” he said. “It was terrible. Everyone is feeling awful here.”


Some beautiful photos from the sunrise memorial this morning for Bruce McCallum. Thank you to the organizers and the...

Posted by Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica Destination Guide on Saturday, March 11, 2017

With a report from CTV Toronto’s Jamie Mauracher and files from The Canadian Press