VALRICO, Fla. (WFLA) – Those who knew and loved Mathew Korattiyil were shocked when they heard the news. Friends and loved ones couldn’t believe it.
They were heartbroken to learn that the kind-hearted, longtime convenience store owner had been murdered by a bank robber who then carjacked the 68-year-old, according to deputies.
As customers stopped by the popular store at the corner of Valrico Road and Sydney Road in Hillsborough County Tuesday afternoon, many of them were in tears.
It was owned by Korattiyil for many years and considered a staple in the community.
“He’s a good person, a big-hearted person, big part of our community. He’s always been giving and caring,” said Christina Dimauro. She told 8 On Your Side she’s known Korattiyil her entire life, as has her family.
“We’ve been coming here for more than twenty years,” she explained through tears. “My heart goes out to his family and friends, his brother, his family.”
Those who knew Korattiyil describe him as a good man, salt of the earth, someone who always remembered your name and had a kind word.
“I don’t think I’ll be able to sleep tonight,” said Ronnie Sewell, a lifelong customer who grew up just away. “He was a good man, the best. This guy was so good to people. He would carry products in his store and keep them in stock, just because someone liked it. He always thought of other people. I just can’t believe this.”
He was a man who loved his family, friends say, and adored time with his children and grandchildren.
“It hits hard when it’s close to home, makes you think when you got out, you know the things that can happen. He wasn’t even in the bank, but it still happened,” said Christina.
For so many in this Valrico neighborhood, stopping in to say hello in a place so familiar will never be the same now that this kind, familiar face is gone.
“He always remembered everybody,” Christina told us. “And, everybody always remembered him. they will remember him.”