Editor's note: The following story contains strong language and details that may be unsuitable for some readers.
The family of the local man who was stabbed to death in downtown Barrie earlier this week wants people to know that Ron Peterson-Brennan was a loved father, son, grandfather, and husband.
Peterson-Brennan, 47, was killed Monday morning after a confrontation with two other men near Trinity Anglican Church, located at 24 Collier St. He then made his way to a Dunlop Street diner where he sought medical help, but was later pronounced dead at the local hospital.
Steven Martel, 33, of Sudbury, was arrested Thursday night in Barrie’s east end and has been charged with second-degree murder, assault with a weapon, failure to comply with a probation order, robbery, and possession of a weapon for dangerous purpose.
Jordan Szyperski, 32, of Barrie, was arrested Monday evening in Barrie and has been charged with second-degree murder, robbery, possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose, and assault with a weapon.
None of the allegations against either suspect have been tested in court.
Peterson-Brennan’s daughter, 28-year-old Careena Schneider, spoke with BarrieToday this morning and described what her dad meant to her as well as her three daughters, aged 10, eight and five.
“My girls just adored him,” said an emotional Schneider said over the phone. “Words aren’t enough — I just can’t tell you what he meant to them. He was their whole world and they were his.
"He was taken away from them and everyone who loved him. He was the best, just the absolute best," she added.
Schneider said there were a lot of online assumptions about her dad that she wanted cleared up.
“He wasn’t some street person, he wasn’t just a statistic. Yes, for the last little while he was on the street, but that’s not who he was his whole life,” she said. “He took care of his family, us kids. Made sure we had a roof and food and clothes and a happy life.
"I don’t want him looked down on because of his last day.”
Schneider said the last time she saw her dad was Feb. 13 for her birthday.
“We went down to the waterfront and I had just got a new camera that I was showing him, and I was taking pictures,” said Schneider, who paused to collect herself during the interview. “Sorry, it's emotional. We had such a nice day. He was showing me all the new stuff he got my mom. He was good that day. He had been tired lately, but he was really good.”
Schneider said her dad had two children, including her and her brother, who resides in an assisted living facility and also had a very tight bond with Peterson-Brennan.
“My brother is 22 and he's in a home as he has a lot of developmental delays and deals with epilepsy and other health issues. He and my dad were the closest, they went through a lot together,” she said. “My dad would love being with him and my brother loved having my dad there — it was just a really beautiful bond.”
Schneider said there may be one person who was closer than anyone to her dad and that was her mom, Lori.
Peterson-Brennan and his wife were well known to the community of people who are dealing with homelessness, as the couple was never apart. They were inseparable for 31 years.
“He protected me everyday," Lori told BarrieToday. "He was there for me everyday. He was a good man."
Sadly, Lori was with him the day he was stabbed.
“They thought he spilled something of theirs — they got mad because they thought he spilled their drugs,” she said while recalling the events of that morning. “One of them punched him, but I saw the knife in their hand and told him he had been stabbed and to run.”
Schneider interjected in the interview with obvious anger and disbelief in her voice.
“They took my dad because they thought he spilled something," she said. "They took him from my daughters because they fucking thought he spilled something.”
When asked how she was holding up, Lori said it wasn’t too bad right now, but knows it will get worse.
“We haven’t gone to see him yet, but we will be. I’m kind of holding on to him in my mind, but I’m sure it will become more real soon,” she said. “I haven’t been without him this long and I miss him.”
Lori said she was also thinking of the friends they have on the street and in some of the shelters where they go, too.
“I haven’t had a chance to see many of them, but they’re going to be hurting,” she said. “They loved him. We have been on the streets on and off for a little bit, and he was very well liked.”
Schneider said her dad was so good to others that he lived up to the old adage.
“He has literally taken his shirts off to give to people who he felt needed them more. Like, here's-the-shirt-off-my-back type thing,” she said. “It was like, 'Dad where’s your shirt?'”
According to his obituary, Peterson-Brennan's funeral will be held Monday, Feb. 27 at the Doolittle Chapel of Carson Funeral Homes in Orillia, located 54 Coldwater St. E., beginning at 11 a.m., followed by a celebration of life in the chapel starting at 1 p.m. The family says donations can be made to the John Howard Society of Ontario.
With two people in custody and the court process just beginning, Schneider said the family is leaning on each other.
“We’re sticking together as a family, but our hearts are broken, we’re so broken,” she said. “It's one of those things, like you think you know how you’ll feel if something like this happens, but you really don’t.
"The pain is so huge and empty at the same time. I didn’t want him taken from me. I didn’t want someone playing God for my dad, you know?”