Ex-veterans agent killed in New Bedford park

By: Melissa Randall

mrandall@abc6.com

@MRandallABC6

Former New Bedford mayor Fred Kalisz Jr. is heartbroken over the murder of his former veterans’ agent and aide Donald DePina.

"Gentleman. Someone that was patriotic. And someone that was always willing to help," said Kaliz describing his long-time friend.

DePina, 66, was found shot to death in Brooklawn Park late Saturday night.

"It just knocked my socks off. I couldn’t imagine it happening,” said Kalisz.

In recent months DePina had taken a job as a cabbie for Blue Bird Cab. He was working the night he was killed.

"He may have picked up a fare and as a result of that issue lost his life,” said Kalisz.

Workers at the cab company told ABC6 News that management will not let them comment.

The community, however, has plenty to say about DePina. He was well known throughout the city, especially among the veterans. The flag at the New Bedford Disabled American Veterans, or DAV, hall flew at half staff Monday.

"This is a person who served in combat for freedom for this country and here someone in this country takes his life… senseless,” said John Remedis, President of the Veitnam Veterans of America Chapter 499.

Dan LeBlanc, who took over as veteran’s agent in New Bedford after DePina, recalls his colleague’s tireless advocacy.

"Donald served his country and his community and did his best to give back,” said LeBlanc. “He was just a guy that like a lot of other guys thought more of other people than he did himself.”

"I mean he did things for other people. He did not help himself, but helped everybody else. He was there for everybody,” added Remedis.

Depina was one of the founders of the Veterans Transition House on Willis Street. According to officials, 2,800 vets have been helped there since 1990. His friends say its success is DePina’s legacy.

As of Monday night no arrests have been made in the case. Anyone with information is asked to call New Bedford Police.

© WLNE-TV 2015