Survivors, mourners gather in Toronto to mark 5 years since Danforth shooting

Click to play video: 'Memorial marks the 2nd anniversary of deadly Danforth shooting'
Memorial marks the 2nd anniversary of deadly Danforth shooting
RELATED: People gather to remember and support each other two years after the Danforth shooting took the lives of two people and left more than a dozen others injured. Miranda Anthistle reports – Jul 22, 2020

TORONTO — Survivors of a mass shooting in Toronto’s Greektown gathered on Saturday evening with their relatives and other mourners to mark five years since the attack on the city’s bustling Danforth Avenue.

About 50 people, many dressed in white, met up in Withrow Park near two trees planted in 2019 to honour the victims, and some local officials including Mayor Olivia Chow were on hand.

The event led by Rev. Wendell Gibbs, a pastor with the Toronto Police Service, heard from a number of speakers including the families of the victims.

Chow extended her condolences to the families of those who were lost and to those who continue to be affected by that night.

“It is hard to believe that five years have passed,” Chow said.

“In these moments we can be cynical and lose faith, or we can keep the goodness in our hearts and remain hopeful.”

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Eighteen-year-old Reese Fallon and 10-year-old Julianna Kozis were killed, and 13 others injured, when a gunman went on a shooting rampage along a popular stretch of the street known locally as “The Danforth” in 2018.

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Quinn Fallon, sister of Reese, recalled her as “love personified” who had a beaming smile and could make the worst days feel like the best.

“She deserves to be here right now,” Fallon said.

“She had a love so strong and no one could take that away.”

It stands as one of the worst mass shootings in the city’s history, leading to advocacy for stronger gun control measures and a public health approach to gun violence.

“Every day I grapple with the memories of that horrific night,” said Ali Demican, one of the injured.

Laura Shaw was one of those who came to the park in solidarity with the victims. She lived across from Demetre Cafe, where some of the shooting took place, and witnessed the terrifying events.

The events continue to affect her in different ways but she said it’s important to remember how the community has come together since.

“Being here, I think it’s odd because it feels like it just happened and so much has happened since then,” she said.

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“It’s really heartwarming to see the community come together.”

“I hope this brings solace to everyone.”

The vigil concluded with a prayer by Gibbs. Families, politicians and community members were given the opportunity to put flowers next to the two trees.

An advocacy group made up of survivors and people affected by the shooting has become instrumental in pushing for stronger gun control measures, including Bill C-21 currently before the Senate.

The bill would legislate, among other provisions, a national freeze on handgun sales, a crackdown on homemade and untraceable so-called “ghost guns” and a technical definition of assault-style firearms intended to establish a permanent ban on future models.

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