Emotions were high as Toronto’s two councillors from the Danforth area, Mary Fragedakis and Paula Fletcher, addressed council Monday, the morning after a mass shooting in the city’s Greektown neighbourhood.
Three people were killed, an 18-year-old woman, a 10-year-old girl and the gunman, and 13 others were injured.
The shooting happened near Danforth and Logan Ave., just after 10 p.m., when a 29-year-old man opened fire with a handgun, firing at several groups of people as he made his way down Danforth Avenue.
Through tears, Ward 29 Toronto-Danforth Coun. Fragedakis, who has lived in the area her entire life, told council the scene Sunday night was unlike anything she had ever seen before.
“It’s devastating. It’s devastating for me, it’s devastating for the people in the community. … I talked to a lot of people who are just in shock. I can’t really make any sense of something that’s so senseless,” she said.
Fragedakis, who had to write down her speech for fear of being unable to make it through, said her thoughts and prayers are with the community.
“I cannot imagine what they’re going through. The pain. The loss. … Words don’t do how we’re all feeling any justice. And as we mourn, cherishing and caring for those in our lives may help with the pain and coming together as a community in this difficult time is so important.”
LISTEN: Coun. Mary Fragedakis on the Danforth shooting
Toronto police located and exchanged gunfire with the suspect, according to the Special Investigations Unit (SIU). The man fled the area but was found dead in a nearby alley. It remains unclear if he died by suicide or was killed by police.
The SIU, an independent agency that investigates police-involved incidents resulting in death and serious injury, identified the suspect Monday afternoon as Toronto resident Faisal Hussain.
Sunday’s deadly rampage in Toronto marks the latest in a growing list of fatal shootings in the city.
Gun deaths had accounted for 23 of Toronto’s 52 homicides this year — compared with 16 fatal shootings by the end of June 2017. Police statistics for 2018 indicate there were 199 shootings as of June 25, compared with 170 by this time last year.
WATCH: ‘He was shooting mostly women’: Greektown shooting witness describes gunman’s rampage
“Gun violence is a big issue,” Ward 30 Toronto-Danforth Coun. Fletcher told reporters after council was recessed until Monday afternoon. “When we got to the scene, we were told it was not gang-related violence, but this lone gunman violence, which is new and unique in this way to the city of Toronto.”
“This is something that’s extremely troubling that we don’t understand at all and I do think that there are many people who are in trauma at the moment. The street is in trauma. The people sitting in the restaurants who didn’t get hit by bullets are terribly traumatized. … We’re just processing this whole tragedy for the next 24 hours, at least. But I do think talking about guns is important,” she said.
WATCH: Mayor Tory condemns ‘unspeakable’ shooting on Toronto’s Danforth
Toronto Mayor John Tory called the shooting “a despicable act” and expressed outrage that someone had “unleashed such a terrible attack on our city and people innocently enjoying a Sunday evening.”
On July 18, Tory outlined a number of community intervention and prevention measures to fight gun and gang violence in the city.
The initiatives, $12 million in total, which will be funded in part by the federal government, offer support to families and victims impacted by violence and target youths most susceptible to entering a life of crime.
WATCH: John Tory: Why does anyone in Toronto need a gun?
Furthermore, on July 19, the Toronto Police Services Board (TPSB) requested the city fund a motion to double the amount of public CCTV cameras and introduce a controversial audio recording technology that provides police with real-time shooting locations.
The TPSB agreed to move forward on the motion, originally brought forward by Tory, who said the measures were discussed at a special meeting between senior city and police staff earlier in July.
LISTEN: Coun. Paula Fletcher joins The Morning Show on Global News Radio 640 Toronto
The new audio recording technology is called “ShotSpotter,” and is a system that is already in use by more than 90 cities in the U.S., including Louisville, Cincinnati and Chicago, Tory said. The system uses microphones to detect and locate gun fire, and automatically informs police.
Fletcher said it is time council and the city “step up again” in regard to gun violence.
“This council many times has taken strong positions on handguns and other guns in the city of Toronto and I think it’s time to step up again,” she said.
“I want to assure you that the Danforth is a strong area. The people are strong there and Danforth will remain strong, despite this terribly tragedy in our midst.”
Both Fletcher and Fragedakis said they would be going back to the scene while council is in recess until around 2 p.m.