An emotional vigil was held in Halifax Tuesday night for the city's latest murder victim, a well-known gay rights activist.

Investigators say 49-year-old Raymond Taavel was badly beaten when he tried to break up a fight between the man he was with, and a second man who was yelling at the pair as they left Menz Bar on Gottingen Street early Tuesday.  

Police responded to the assault call just after 2:30 a.m.

A witness spotted Taavel and tried to assist him but he died on the street.

Nearly 1,000 people attended the vigil outside Menz Bar on Gottingen Street Tuesday night.

The event was arranged quickly after his death, primarily through social media.

Friends reflected on Taavel's life by lighting candles, singing songs, praying and sharing stories.

Many said they still can't believe he's gone.

Taavel was a well-known gay rights activist, and the assistant circulation manager at the Shambhala Sun, a bimonthly Buddhist magazine.

"Just like he lived his life, he was working to better his community right to the end," friend Andy Blair told CTV News. "That's how I got to know him."

The man accused in the case, 32-year-old Andre Noel Denny of Membertou, has a history of violence and mental illness.

Denny became a patient at the East Coast Forensic Hospital after he was found not criminally responsible for a violent episode on the Membertou First Nation last year and he was granted a conditional release in February.

Denny remains in police custody and he is due to appear in Halifax provincial court Wednesday to face a charge of second-degree murder.