Hearts were breaking minute by minute Monday as we learned of cruelty and violence unleashed in Canada’s largest metropolis.
It was an act of clear barbarism. It was terrifying. Terrifying to consider that for many anxious observers, there were loved ones who either called the area of Toronto where the attack took place home, or were perhaps scheduled to be there Monday.
We heard a child’s stroller had been hit. One man describes seeing a victim turned and twisted. An witness describes the scene. “Man … oh man,” he says. “I’m numb. … It was like a scene out of a movie, with bodies lying down on the sidewalk, one by one, one by one. … I’ve seen body parts like I’ve never seen before in my life.”
“People are scared,” offered a truthful Mayor John Tory. We were and we are. We were scared for the good people for whom the worst possible news would confirm their lives would never be the same. We were scared for the well-being of first responders attending the massive crime scene. We were and are scared it will happen again, as it surely will.
It is somehow the new normal, we’ve been told. Terror and violence, regardless of its root cause, now has a foot-hold on population centres, on modes of transport, on our entertainment destinations, like concerts and sports events.
Taking no chances, the Air Canada Centre was under a security blanket, as the Maple Leafs provided a grieving city, an angry city, a moment of real joy as the hockey team, which hasn’t tasted champagne since a bottle of bubbly cost maybe $5, tied its best-of-seven first-round Stanley Cup series with the Bruins at three games each. “Go Leafs Go.”
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Then television screens began to switch to news and the face of the suspect responsible for the massacre appeared. The joy of the Leafs win and the excited dream of young heroes, dressed in blue and white, skating with Stanley’s Mug held aloft for the first time in 51 seasons was quieted. How could it not be?
Monday was a day of stark contrast. A day of malevolence leading to heartbreak. Yet also a day which permitted, however fleetingly, excitement and happiness.