“I really believe in this petition and I think this is definitely one thing that is really getting us through because it’s like hope that something like this will never happen to another family and I would never wish for anyone to experience what we went through,” Noor Samiei, whose friend Reese Fallon was fatally shot, said during a news conference in Toronto on Friday.
Samiei said she was with Fallon and two other of her friends on the evening of July 22, 2018 when Faisal Hussain began firing shots on Danforth Avenue that left 18-year-old Reese and 10-year-old Julianna Kozis dead and 13 others injured.
“If you knew Reese you’d know how amazing she was. I’ve never met someone that amazing before. She was so bright. She was not only smart but she was so funny. She would always make everyone happy, laughing,” Samiei said.
VIDEO: Danforth victims appeal for change to hand gun laws
Quinn Fallon, the sibling of Reese, said further action on curbing gun violence is the right move to prevent similar incidents from happening again.
“No families should ever have to go through what my family and the Kozis’ do. Finding out your 18-year-old sister is lying dead on the Danforth while she was innocently minding her own business, out for her best friend’s birthday dinner,” she said.
The federal government is currently in the process of studying the possibility of a handgun ban in Canada.
Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction Bill Blair launched the firearms review following a series of high-profile gun-related shootings last summer.
Toronto city council voted in favour of asking upper levels of government to ban the sale of guns and ammunition locally.
Montreal city council also adopted a motion demanding the federal government issue a sweeping ban on handguns and assault rifles across the country.
The families of the victims also sent a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asking him and his government to act decisively.
“Despite the steps taken by law-abiding owners and retailers, legally purchased hand guns and assault weapons are increasingly making their way into illegal situations, and act as instruments of death in homicides and suicides,” the letter said.
“In our case, a hand gun that was imported through legal channels, found its way to the perpetrator of our trauma and loss. Why did this need to happen?”
Ken Price, the father of one of the victims, said that this isn’t a referendum on firearms in general, but specifically on handguns and assault rifles.
“What we would like to see is, as a group what we are unanimously in, is we would ask our elected representatives to advocate for this. That they would advocate in caucus and influence in cabinet, with the prime minister and all levels of government to support that, a ban on private ownership of handguns and assault rifles,” Price said.
VIDEO: Danforth shooting victims speak out about lack of action on gun violence
Patrick MacLeod, a retired Toronto police officer and father to one of the victims, said he remembers sitting on the couch the night of July 22 when he received a terrifying call from his daughter who had been injured in a shooting at the restaurant near where Reese Fallon was killed.
He rushed to the scene and found his daughter and others crouched in a bathroom hiding from the gunman.
“I went to the bathroom and I saw blood all over the door,” MacLeod said. “I could hear whispering inside and I knocked on the door. I said ‘Sky are you in there’? And she said, ‘Oh my God it’s my dad.”
MacLeod opened the door and found six people inside a single person bathroom.
“They were cut up and bloody from falling down,” he said. MacLeod, whose daughter was a close friend of Fallon’s, said it was the “worst night of my life.”
“I grew up with this kid. She was at my dining room at lunch time,” he said. “That night I was pulled out of retirement. We are trying to put back the pieces, but how do you?”
WATCH: Danforth shooting victims, families call on federal government to pass handgun, assault rifle ban. Caryn Lieberman reports.
MacLeod urges it’s time for Canadians to get off the couch and call on officials to do something about gun violence.
“Call your representatives and say we don’t need handguns and assault rifles in Canada,” MacLeod said. “These weapons are designed to kill people. They are being taken from people who like to shoot at paper targets and they like to shoot at real people.”
MacLeod also said legal gun owners in Canada are part of the problem.
“All these guns that are in Canada are ending up in criminals’ hands as well. It’s not just coming from the States. That’s a myth,” MacLeod said.
“A lot of these handguns are being stolen from legal gun owners who at no fault of their own, have them locked up in their homes or in their cars, they get broken into and they’re losing their guns and they’re ending up on the streets in criminals’ hands.”
Quinn Fallon said her sister was studying to become a nurse and wanted to raise a family but her life was cut short because of gun violence.
“Because of this tragedy, Reese and Julianna will never get to experience a day past July 22. They both wanted love and peace, not hate or violence,” she said.
Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders confirmed on Friday the investigation into the mass shooting is complete.
Details on the gunman, who died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound following a confrontation with police, and the circumstances on what led to the incident will be released at a later date, the chief said.
“The investigation itself is complete, but I’m sure there’s a lot more things we need to look after,” Saunders said.
“With respects to the investigation being over, I know the public is interested in knowing a lot of things, there’s a lot of questions to be answered and we will put that forward… but I’m going to do it properly.”
–With files from Andrew Russell