Toronto

'She isn't coming back': Community mourns loss of 2 young lives in Danforth shooting

In the aftermath of Sunday's mass shooting on the Danforth, friends, family and mourners across the city are remembering Reese Fallon and Julianna Kozis for their grace, energy and light in the world.

Julianna Kozis, 10, and Reese Fallon, 18, remembered for their grace and energy

Julianna Kozis, left, and Reese Fallon were killed by a deadly shooting rampage in Toronto's Greektown Sunday night. (Toronto Police Service/Facebook)

When Julie Steele looked at Reese Fallon, she saw the kind of young person she hoped her children would grow up to be.

Now the 18-year-old is only a role model in memory.

Both Fallon and 10-year-old Julianna Kozis were gunned down Sunday night in a mass shooting on Danforth Avenue in Toronto's Greektown. Thirteen others were hurt — some, authorities say, with "life-altering" injuries.

In the aftermath of the shooting, friends, family, and mourners across the city are remembering Fallon and Kozis for their grace, energy and light in the world.

She just continues to ask us, over and over, 'Reese OK? Reese coming back?' And she just can't understand when we tell her, 'No, Reese isn't OK, and she isn't coming back.- Julie Steele

Fallon's mother was a daycare provider for Steele's kids, aged eight, five and two — and it was there that Steele saw the kindness that radiated out of the recent Malvern Collegiate Institute graduate.

"[My kids] loved seeing Reese. My middle child has special needs, and Reese was not fazed by that at all," Steele told CBC News.

"She constantly encouraged and helped Penelope and shared our joy as we saw her progress. And my youngest, Adelaide, always had a big smile and cuddle for her. So many teenagers could not be bothered to spend time with kids, but not Reese."

Steele's oldest child, eight-year-old Charlotte, especially looked up to Fallon, she said.

"She hung on to her every word, and Reese was exactly the kind of person I would like Charlotte to turn out to be."

People leave flowers at a memorial on Tuesday honouring the victims of the mass shooting on Danforth Avenue. Two people were killed and 13 injured. (Mark Blinch/Canadian Press)

Now her children are reeling, and Steele and her husband are trying to explain the reality of death.

"Penelope, my middle child, doesn't really understand it at all. With her developmental delays and her cognitive impairments, death is something that has been impossible to explain to her so far," she said.

"She just continues to ask us, over and over, 'Reese OK? Reese coming back?' And she just can't understand when we tell her, 'No, Reese isn't OK, and she isn't coming back."

As people attend a memorial service for the victims of the shooting, some stop and lay flowers and write messages of hope along the Danforth 0:57

'Beautiful, aspiring athlete'

Mourners are also grieving Kozis. The 10-year-old was gunned down as the shooter, 29-year-old Faisal Hussain, wandered down the Danforth, indiscriminately firing at targets. A police source told CBC News that Hussain killed himself following an exchange of gunfire with officers.

Kozis was a synchronized swimmer, who swam last season with the Markham Synchro Club as a 10 and under competitive athlete.

As police continue their investigation into Toronto shooter Faisal Hussain, the public is learning more about his past, however those details are providing few answers as to why he carried out the shooting. 2:06

"Julianna was a beautiful, aspiring athlete who was in her third year in our sport," Synchro Swim Ontario said in a statement.

Leslee Wells told CBC News that Kozis lived on the same street as her in Markham. She signed a book of condolences for the family Wednesday at the Markham Civic Centre. 

Julie, left, Adelaide and Mark Steel. Mark taught chemistry to Reese Fallon, who died in the Danforth shooting, at Malvern Collegiate. (Mark Trainor/CBC)

"She's just a very sweet little soul, [and] when I was taking my dog for a walk, she would be dancing out in front of the house, not a care in the world," Wells said.

"[She was] just a lovely little girl, and just radiated a lot of beautiful energy."

'I was trying to wake her up'

Police have not said where exactly along the Danforth Avenue strip Kozis was shot. However, a witness who spoke with CBC News on Monday said he tended to a seriously wounded young girl of about the same age.

Md Ashaduzzaman was working in the back kitchen at Caffe Demetre when the shooting started. A woman in the café was soon screaming for help, saying her daughter had been shot.

There were numerous witnesses to Toronto's mass shooting on Sunday, as it happened on a busy summer's night in the city's Greektown area. 2:56

The café, at 400 Danforth Ave., has been identified as the third shooting site along the gunman's deadly rampage.

The girl, about 10 years old by his estimate, was lying on the ground, bleeding from her leg as her mother tried to stop the bleeding with a cloth. 

"I was trying to hold her and I was trying to wake her up. She was falling asleep, her eyes were closing and opening, closing and opening," Ashaduzzaman said.

People write messages on a makeshift memorial remembering the victims of a shooting Sunday evening on Danforth Avenue, in Toronto. (Mark Blinch/The Canadian Press)

Toronto city Coun. Jim Karygiannis said that he knows Kozis's family and that her death is a "devastation" to the community.

"She had her whole life ahead of her, only to be taken in a senseless act of terror," Karygiannis said Tuesday night.

Fallon was looking to the future, too. She was set to attend Hamilton's McMaster University in the fall to study nursing. Steele was one of the first people she told about her acceptance to the school.

"I just saw her joy and pride in her accomplishment and I felt so proud of her, so excited for her future," Steele said.

"I just desperately wish she got to experience it."​

adam.carter@cbc.ca

About the Author

Adam Carter

Reporter, CBC Hamilton

Adam Carter is a Newfoundlander who now calls Hamilton home. He enjoys a good story and playing loud music in dank bars. You can follow him on Twitter @AdamCarterCBC or drop him an email at adam.carter@cbc.ca.

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