‘Our hearts go out to you’: Danforth community mourns mass shooting ahead of 1 year anniversary
Members of the Danforth community gathered Sunday afternoon for a solemn ceremony ahead of the one-year anniversary of the mass shooting that left the neighbourhood shaken last summer.
Monday marks one year since a gunman walked along Danforth Avenue, randomly shooting at people enjoying a summer night in Greektown.
The incident left two people dead, including 18-year-old Reese Fallon and 10-year-old Julianna Kozis. Thirteen others were injured.
“On July 22, 2018, our community was shaken by unthinkable violence,” said Toronto Police Services Chaplain Wendell Gibbs, who led the ceremony at Withrow Park, not far from where the shooting occurred.
“Our hearts go out to the victims, their families and all those whose lives were changed that day.”
The names of all the victims were read aloud to a crowd of nearly 200 people and flowers were placed in the memory of those who died.
“I too was present. I was there a year ago tomorrow. So I share the emotion that we can all share a year later because it never goes away,” Gibbs said. “To the families of those who died, we say: our hearts go out to you. Remember your loved ones. We share your grief and you are not alone.”
WATCH: Toronto Police Services Chaplain Wendell Gibbs leads ceremony honouring victims of Danforth shooting
Gibbs also thanked the first responders who ran to the scene in the midst of the shooting to tend to the injured.
Some victims and their families also attended the ceremony, including Reese Fallon’s younger sister Quinn.
“Personally with me, right now has been the hardest time,” she said. “It’s not just been a year of healing, it’s been a year since I’ve seen her. And it’s the same for my family. We miss her so much.”
Quinn added that while the past year has been extremely hard, she and her family do feel supported by the community.
The ceremony included an original poem reading by the city’s poet laureate and choir performances.
Meanwhile, on the sidewalks around the park, community members used chalk to leave messages of hope.
The City of Toronto Community Safety & Wellbeing Unit, Victim Services Toronto, and therapy dogs were also on-site for those who needed emotional support.
Several dignitaries were in attendance, including Mayor John Tory, Councillor Paula Fletcher, and MP Bill Blair.
WATCH: Reese Fallon’s sister on the pain of losing her ‘best friend’
“To be able to see people suffer that kind of tragedy and come back to be strong with one another, and to be able to be here today, to me it’s a remarkable thing,” Tory said. “I think Toronto is more together than it’s ever been.”
Last month, investigators released their findings into the shooting and determined that while the shooter Faisal Hussain was mentally unstable, his motive remains unclear.
Another event is planned for Monday evening to mark one year since the shooting; a sunset vigil will be held at a parkette on Danforth Avenue beginning at 8:51 p.m.
– With files from Niza Nondo
WATCH: (June 21) Toronto police release findings of Danforth shooting investigation
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