Nfld. & Labrador

'They're gonna need it for sure': Fundraiser planned for Danforth shooting victim with N.L. partner

The owner of the Fort Amherst Pub used to work with Jerry Pinksen, a man from the Northern Peninsula who looked the Danforth shooter in the eye.

'The first thing you think is, what if that was my family?'

Danielle Kane and Jerry Pinksen rushed to help a victim during the Danforth shooting in Toronto. Kane was hit by a bullet which shattered her T11 vertebra. (Submitted by Byron Abalos)

"What if that was my family?"

That was Evan Bursey's first thought when he heard his former co-worker, Jerry Pinksen, was now spending his time in a Toronto hospital, waiting for his girlfriend to wake up.

Danielle Kane, a nursing student from Ontario, was shot where she stood in the emergency exit of a Greektown restaurant, while running to help victims of the Danforth shooting.

That act was something that stuck with Bursey.

"These people were running to help strangers. If we can't help people we know … I mean, that's what it's all about."

Bursey owns the Fort Amherst Pub, a restaurant in Churchill Square in St. John's. On Aug. 6, he's having a fundraising dinner there to raise money for Pinksen and Kane.

"They're gonna need it for sure," Bursey said.

Pinksen is from Straitsview, on the Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland. Bursey worked with Pinksen in downtown St. John's in 2013, in the kitchen of Blue on Water.

Evan Bursey worked with Jerry Pinksen at a downtown St. John's restaurant in 2013. (Jonny Hodder/CBC)

"He was the definition of a good teammate," Bursey said of Pinksen.

All of the fundraiser's proceeds will go to Pinksen and Kane, Bursey said, and local businesses have donated gifts to put into a care package for the couple.

Still in coma

Kane is in a coma at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto. The bullet went through her diaphragm, chest wall, stomach, and shattered her T11 vertebra which caused compression and a contusion in her spinal cord. 

Pinksen, an emergency room nurse in Toronto, was able to duck out of the way of the shooter's bullets. He held Kane after she was shot, trying to stop the bleeding from her back, where the bullet exited her body, and telling her to keep breathing through the pain.

Jerry Pinksen of Newfoundland and Labrador and girlfriend Danielle Kane rushed to help a gunshot victim on Danforth Avenue in Toronto July 22. (Byron Abalos/GoFundMe)

He told CBC's St. John's Morning Show that Kane's doctors were hoping to take her off the ventilator Monday afternoon, and to bring her out of the coma.

"This is quite a dangerous process so we have to make sure we're as cautious as possible so she doesn't have any setbacks," he said.

"I want to make sure she gets all the support she needs to help her live the most independent life that she wants, because she was such an independent woman."

Pinksen said it's still unclear what challenges Kane will face when she recovers.

Overwhelmed by the support

Pinksen said support from family and friends like Bursey have been helping him stay strong for himself and "for Danielle, for when she finally wakes up."

"It's been overwhelming," he said.

"Sometimes I feel like I'm not deserving of it."

Bursey doesn't agree. Working in a kitchen is difficult, requiring long hours in sweltering temperatures, he said, and Pinksen always made it better.

"It makes a big difference when it's a smiling face, when it's a funny comment to get you through the heat," he said.

"He's just a very thoughtful person. And when you receive that, you can't help but reciprocate."

A campaign on fundraising site, GoFundMe, for Kane was only a few thousand dollars shy of its $150-thousand goal as of midday Monday.

With files from the St. John's Morning Show