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A year later, ceremony commemorates victims of the Danforth shooting


July 22, 2019
By The Canadian Press

TORONTO — The names of the two people killed in a shooting in Toronto’s Greektown last year were read aloud in a ceremony meant to honour their memory Sunday afternoon.

Those gathered held a moment of silence to pay tribute to 18-year-old Reese Fallon and 10-year-old Julianna Kozis, as well as the 13 people hurt in the attack.

Toronto Police Services chaplain Rev. Wendell Gibbs, who led the event, said the ceremony “breaks down the walls of isolation.”

“We are here to express our love and support and our compassion to the families of those who were lost and to those who were injured or witnessed unspeakable violence, as well as for a community that was shaken one year ago tomorrow,” Gibbs said.

“We share your grief, and you are not alone.”

The ceremony was held in a park near the stretch of Danforth Avenue where the devastating shooting rampage occurred on July 22 last year.

The names of others affected by the shooting were also read out during the ceremony, which began with a choir performance and included the reading of an original poem.

Monday marks the one-year anniversary of when Faisal Hussain opened fire along the bustling street before shooting and killing himself.

Ken Price, father of one the victims injured in the attack, said the ceremony is a reminder of how strong the Danforth community is.

“That’s the secret to how we move forward — it’s to have really active and engaged communities that support each other,” said Price.

Lori Zucchiatti O’Neill, who attended the event, said she remembers hearing sirens the day of the shooting.

The 57-year-old said she can’t walk on Danforth Avenue without thinking about the shooting. She said she hopes discussions continue on how to prevent similar tragedies from happening.

“Clearly there is mental illness in the shooter’s history and that is part of the tragedy. If we are just consumed by our feelings and we don’t have that translate into concrete positive action, then it’s just wishful thinking,” she said.

Last month, Toronto police detailed its nearly year-long investigation into the attack and said while 29-year-old Hussain had a long history of mental health issues, investigators couldn’t pinpoint a motive for the shooting.

Police have said Hussain had no criminal record and there was no evidence he had been radicalized as police found he had no affiliation with hate or terror groups.

The shooting also raised concerns about access to firearms. Since the attack, Price has been advocating for stricter gun laws after his daughter was shot in the upper thigh.

“Samantha endured a very serious point-blank range gun shot from a person who was full of hate,” he said.

Members of the Danforth community have been raising money for a national organization in support of limiting access to firearms.

Tilly Gray, who also attended Sunday’s ceremony, said she has helped raise funds for gun control and that it was one of many ways the tight-knit neighbourhood came together following the tragedy.

“The overwhelming support that the community is showing one another is the thing I take from this and want to keep taking away from this,” she said.

A sunset vigil is planned Monday evening at a parkette on Danforth Avenue where the community intends to gather with candles and photos of the victims.

— Lidia Abraha

News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc. 2019