Messages of love left for victims of Danforth shooting as community begins to rally
A community leader says Greektown is resilient and people are showing their support
Residents have created makeshift memorials out of flowers, candles, signs and chalk on Danforth Avenue in the wake of a shooting rampage on Sunday that left two people dead and 13 others injured.
"Hate cannot drive out hate; only LOVE can do that," reads a hand-written sign placed near a tree in the Alexander the Great Parkette at Danforth and Logan Avenues.
Wreaths have also been placed in the parkette to represent the circle of life. Nearby, messages of love in chalk have also been left.
A community leader says the neighbourhood, known as Toronto's Greektown, has already begun to rally.
"Yesterday, everybody was in a complete state of shock, obviously. The community was really focused on mourning the individuals who were savagely massacred," Howard Lichtman, spokesperson for the Greektown on the Danforth BIA , said on Tuesday.
Lichtman said the Danforth is a family friendly area where people sit on restaurant patios to enjoy the food. The area draws residents from all over the Greater Toronto Area. He said the character of the area, seen as a safe place, added to the shock of the shooting.
"Everyone really understood that this kind of senseless act can happen anywhere, and this time, it just happened to happen on the Danforth."
But, Lichtman said people returned to the area on Monday night, not only to attend an impromptu vigil at a local church but also to frequent restaurants and stores to show their support. He said community leaders believe the Danforth is a "close and caring" community and it is resilient.
"That's what we saw last night," he said. "The people were there. Not all the restaurants were open yet. The streets were full of people showing support. Danforth Strong is really reflective of how the community feels about itself."
Toronto police say the shooting occurred at about 10 p.m. on Sunday and unfolded rapidly. Witnesses have said the gunman shot at people randomly with a blank expression on his face.
Reese Fallon, 18, of Toronto, was killed, along with a 10-year-old girl of the Greater Toronto Area who has not been identified. The injured range in age from 17 to 59 years old and suffered injuries ranging from minor to serious.
Businesses 'struck by projectiles'
Meaghan Gray, spokesperson for the Toronto Police Service, said in an email on Monday: "It is fair to say that several businesses were struck by projectiles."
According to Ontario's Special Investigations Unit, the gunman was Faisal Hussain, 29, of Toronto. In a statement, Hussain's family said he suffered from "severe mental health challenges" but the statement sheds no light on a possible motive for the shooting.
The SIU is investigating the circumstances surrounding Hussain's death.
Gray said on Monday that police have completed a search of an apartment on Thorncliffe Park Drive in East York. "This work has been completed and the investigation continues," she said.
Asked if terrorism has been ruled out, she said police are still interviewing witnesses, creating timelines, putting together background and conducting online and technical searches.
"This work takes time. No determination will be made on a motive until we have evidence to support that conclusion."
Many of the injured are still in hospital.
"Hope they're in a kinder place," reads a message in black marker on a piece of plywood boarding up a glass window at Caffe Demetre.
Community vigil to be held on Wednesday
A community vigil and candelight procession will be held at 7 p.m. on Wednesday. It's being organized by the Danforth BIA and the Greektown on the Danforth BIA.
People are expected to gather at Danforth Avenue and Bowden Street, where the shooting is believed to have ended. Then they will walk along both north and south of the Danforth to Ferrier Avenue, where the shooting is believed to have started.
Then people will turn back to gather at the parkette at Danforth and Logan Avenues for a ceremony, which Lichtman said will allow the community to be "strong together and grieve together."
Lichtman, also an organizer of an annual street event called A Taste of the Danforth, which is from Aug. 10-12, said it's expected that there will be an increased police presence along the Danforth at that event.
Police said they have received many tips, photos and videos, from the members of the public.
Flowers, signs, and candles surround a tree here where some of the gunman’s victims were shot down on Sunday night. ‘Love over hate’ is a prevalent theme here. <a href="https://t.co/ybie7myNbS">pic.twitter.com/ybie7myNbS</a>—@LindaWardCBC
Wreaths have been placed at Alexander The Great parkette to symbolize the circle of life after the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/DanforthAttack?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#DanforthAttack</a> <a href="https://t.co/JuWy0ofTlf">pic.twitter.com/JuWy0ofTlf</a>—@LindaWardCBC