Vigil held in Toronto for Florida school shooting victims

Dozens gathered at the Superior Court of Justice in downtown Toronto on Sunday in a vigil to honour the victims of Wednesday’s shooting at a Florida high school that left 17 people dead.

Sunday’s event was also a ‘call to action’ for gun control, organizers say

Dozens gathered in a vigil to honour the victims of Wednesday's shooting at a Florida high school. (Submitted)

Dozens gathered at the Superior Court of Justice in downtown Toronto on Sunday in a vigil to honour the victims of Wednesday's shooting at a Florida high school that left 17 people dead.

The event was organized by the Toronto chapter of Democrats Abroad, who said the event was also a "call to action" for gun control in America.

"We wanted to use this occasion as a call to action to ask for an end to gun violence, an end to the lack of action by the congress on gun control legislation and an end to the NRA dominating our politics in the U.S. on this issue," Democrats Abroad Toronto board member Karin Lippert told CBC Toronto.

Democrats Abroad Toronto board member Karin Lippert called Sunday's vigil a 'call to action.' (Michael Charles Cole/CBC)

The organization has also called for the "end of easy access to AR-15 semi-automatic weapons," which they say is fuelled by the National Rifle Association (NRA), as well as a "lack of leadership in the White House and Congress."

"The children who have survived this tragedy are demanding to know what will be done to protect them and other children like them from gun violence. They deserve an answer," Danielle Stampley, vice-chair of the Toronto Democrats Abroad chapter, said in a press release. "The evidence is clear: Gun control laws lead to fewer gun-related deaths."

Classes cancelled at Florida high school

The site of Wednesday's mass shooting, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, will be closed Monday for the Presidents Day holiday. It will also be closed Tuesday and Wednesday.

School officials say there will be no classes Thursday and Friday while teachers and possibly students have time to come together and meet with counsellors if they wish. 
Diane Cappelli wipes her face as she mourns in front of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Sunday. A gunman entered the school last Wednesday and killed 17 students and teachers. (Matias J. Ocner/Miami Herald/Associated Press)

The school is in south Florida, about 50 miles northwest of downtown Miami and in Broward County, near the Everglades.

The suspect in the case, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, is facing 17 counts of murder in the shooting.

Sunday's vigil in Toronto joins other similar events and demonstrations in the wake of Wednesday's shooting, including protests that drew thousands in Fort Lauderdale and St. Petersburg on Saturday. Those protests also called for action from legislators.

More demonstrations are planned in the U.S. in the coming weeks, including a 17-minute walkout by teachers and students on March 14, a day of walkouts, sit-ins and other events on school campuses on the anniversary of the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado on April 20, and a march in Washington next month to pressure politicians to take action on gun violence. 

With files from The Associated Press