Woman and girl dead, 13 other people injured in Danforth shooting in Toronto
Residents recount attempts to save shooting victims, as city shocked by violent attack
Amid the chaos of Sunday night's mass shooting in Toronto's Greektown, Linda Falagario held an 18-year-old girl who had been shot and told her over and over that she wasn't alone.
Hours later, police announced that young woman, Reese Fallon, had died, along with a 10-year-old girl. By the time the shooting stopped, 13 more victims, ranging in age from 17 to 59, had suffered gunshot wounds. Several of those people remain in hospital Monday night after undergoing life-saving surgery.
The gunman is also dead. Faisal Hussain, a 29-year-old Toronto resident suffered from severe mental health issues, according to his family. Ontario's police watchdog, the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), is still trying to figure out whether he was killed in a gunfight with police, or by a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Falagario, a long-time resident of the area, said she heard a number of gunshots — police said the shooting started around 10 p.m. ET — then people running. Her husband raced from their home to a nearby ice cream parlour, and she followed.
Soon, they were both holding Fallon, who had been shot.
"I was just talking to her… to this beautiful girl," Falagario told CBC Toronto.
"I just talked to her, let her know she's not alone. She's not alone."
Wiping away tears beside her own young daughter, Falagario said she hopes Fallon's family knows their daughter was loved and cared for in her final moments.
Fallon had graduated from Malvern Collegiate Institute in Toronto just last month, and was set to attend McMaster University in Hamilton in the fall. She was also well known in the community for her work with the young Liberals group.
The shooting also claimed the life of 10-year-old Julianna Kozis of Markham.
Another man, Md Ashaduzamman, was trying to keep a girl of about the same age alive at a nearby cafe.
The shooting happened on the Danforth, a popular strip of restaurants and bars close to Toronto's downtown. Many witnesses described the crack of gunshots ringing out in the night, and then running for their lives when they realized what was happening.
Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders said police don't know what prompted the attack, however this summer has seen a spate of gun violence in the city. Just days before the mass shooting, police had deployed hundreds more officers onto the streets during the evening hours.
"There is no magic pill that we're going to take to say all is well," Saunders told reporters at police headquarters.
"It's not going to happen overnight."
Saunders said officers made it to the scene in minutes. In the coming days, police will maintain a heightened presence on the Danforth, he said.
Earlier, Saunders urged the public to share any information they have about the shooting, including video of what happened. He said the investigation is still in its early stages.
"I'm looking at every single possible motive for this," he said. "When you have this many people struck by gunfire it's a grave concern."
Firearm found after gunfight
The SIU, which investigates all cases of death and serious injury involving police in Ontario, is also probing the situation.
"How the man sustained his injury and what transpired are part of the SIU's investigation," said SIU spokesperson Monica Hudon.
According to the SIU, Hussain walked along Danforth Avenue firing at various groups of people several times with a handgun, which has since been recovered.
The SIU said police officers located him on Bowden Street, near Danforth and Broadview avenues, and an exchange of gunfire took place. Hussain then fled, and was found dead on Danforth Avenue a short time later.
The SIU's investigation will focus solely on what occurred on Bowden Street, while the Toronto police will investigate what happened on Danforth Avenue, Hudon said.
Police have not said how Hussain died but said no officers were injured in the exchange of gunfire.
Mayor John Tory extended condolences to the families of the victims and thanked first responders for rushing to the scene to treat the injured. He said the shooting was an "unspeakable act," and called it an attack on the city.
"Our entire city has been shocked by this cowardly act of violence. As I said earlier this morning at the scene, I'm, of course, angry as we all are that someone would carry out such an attack, which really amounts to an attack on our city itself," Tory told city council.
"The gun violence in any part of our city is horrible and completely unacceptable."
Tory acknowledged that Toronto has a gun problem. He said he plans to reach out to provincial and federal officials to discuss public safety and the legality of guns. He said the city will be relentless to find out why the shooting occurred.
"In times of such horror, it is good to know that Toronto is not alone and Toronto will never be alone, and most important of all, that the people of Toronto will never be alone," he said.
On Sunday, Tory asked anyone with information — including video surveillance footage, dashcam video or cellphone recordings — to contact police.
Toronto Coun. Mary Fragedakis, whose ward includes Danforth Avenue, told council in tears that the victims and loved ones are in her thoughts and prayers.
"This is so heartbreaking," she said.
A video from one witness shows a man dressed in black clothes and a black hat walking quickly and firing three shots from the sidewalk into at least one shop or restaurant.
WARNING: This video contains images that some may find disturbing
Other politicians have also reacted to the shooting.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed condolences on Twitter, calling the shooting a "terrible tragedy."
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale commended police and first responders in a tweet. He said his office has been in touch with the mayor's office.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford said on Twitter, "My heart goes out to the victims," and thanked first responders for acting quickly.
Later, at the provincial legislature, he said authorities will seek justice even though the suspected shooter is dead. He also said the provincial government will monitor the situation closely.
"What happened last night is tragic, and it should be cause for anger. It reminds us that the status quo is not good enough. We must do everything we can to bring criminals to justice while preventing other potential shootings," Ford said.
"We will make sure our police have the tools and resources they need to do their jobs, and we will work with our municipal and federal counterparts to identify, apprehend and convict those who commit, or plan to commit violence."
With files from The Canadian Press