Aspiring nurse, 10-year-old girl killed in Toronto mass shooting
An 18-year-old woman set to begin a nursing degree in the fall and a 10-year-old girl were killed when a gunman rampaged down a busy Toronto street on Sunday night.
The alleged gunman, identified as 29-year-old Faisal Hussain of Toronto, died at the scene along the city’s Danforth Avenue. Police said that 13 others, ranging in age from 17 to 59, were injured.
Reese Fallon, 18, was a member of a local Young Liberals club and was enrolled in the nursing program at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont.
The 10-year-old victim was identified by police as Julianna Kozis from Markham, Ont., a city just north of Toronto. Her family has asked for privacy.
In an emotional Instagram post, Fallon’s younger sister said she was “as close to perfect as it can get.”
“You were not only my sister but you were my everything and my love and my whole world,” she wrote.
Beaches—East York MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith told local news station CP24 that he had spoken to Fallon’s family and they are “devastated.”
“This is a loss for all of us,” Erskine-Smith said.
The flags were lowered to half-staff at Malvern Collegiate Institute in memory of Fallon, who was a recent graduate of the school. A teacher there, Anthony Parisi, said that Fallon planned to be a mental health nurse.
“This loss is even more profound because, knowing what I know of Reese, she would’ve been an exceptional nurse because she was a natural caregiver,” he said on Tuesday.
Julie Steel, a family friend, created a scholarship in honour of Fallon that will help future graduates afford nursing school. More than $20,000 was raised in the first day.
A neighbour of Fallon’s in Toronto’s Beaches neighbourhood said that she used to babysit his children. He described her as “lovely.”
“She would come early morning sometimes and play games with my kids,” the neighbour told CTV Toronto. “She was outgoing, very friendly. I’m totally shocked.”
Olympic swimmer Penny Oleksiak went to high school with Fallon and described her classmate on Twitter as “amazing and so sweet.”
“My prayers go out to everyone affected, especially Reese’s family,” Oleksiak wrote.
‘I can’t forget her face’
Ali Demircan, who was grazed on the back by a bullet during the shooting, believes that he was one of the last people to see Fallon alive.
Demircan told CTV’s Genevieve Beauchemin that he was drinking coffee with friends on a stone bench near Danforth Avenue and Logan Avenue around 10 p.m. when he heard the shots.
“People started screaming and they were running around,” he said. “The guy was walking from east to west on the Danforth and he was firing to anyone he sees.”
Demircan, an immigrant from Turkey, said he hid behind the stone bench to protect himself.
When the gunshots stopped, he stood up and saw a young woman with long, dark hair wearing a white shirt and a black skirt. She was holding her arm and asked him to call 911, he said.
Gunshots soon rang out again, and his friend pulled him aside, he added.
“I feel some burn on my back and I thought that I got hit,” he said. He described hiding inside an SUV before running to a park where he called 911. Just then, emergency responders arrived.
“When I turned back here to the crime scene, I saw the girl lying down,” he said. “They were trying to save her.”
“I just heard that she’s 18 years old and it’s terrible,” Demircan went on. “It’s nightmare. I can’t forget her face. She was looking at me. It’s terrible.”
Demircan said he hasn’t been able to sleep since the incident. “Whenever I close my eyes, I remember her face,” he said.
Demircan said he saw at three other gunshot victims, all women, lying on the ground.
As of Tuesday evening, eight of those injured remained in hospitals, including three in critical condition. The rest have been released.
Chris Budo, a candidate for city council in the ward where the shooting took place, told CTV News Channel that he knows two of the gunshot victims – a woman who owns a local cleaning shop and her son.
“The man screamed at them to get out of the way and proceeded to shoot them in the lower legs,” he said. “Very, very scary.”
On Monday night, a vigil was held for the victims.
This strikes very close to home, my family friend Joanna and her son John both fell victim to this senseless violence and were shot. They are both in stable condition in hospital and will soon be released. My thoughts and prayers are with all those affected. #TorontoStrong pic.twitter.com/49ns6nBIeK— Chris Budo (@ChrisBudo_TOR) July 23, 2018
My heart is hurting after hearing about the Danforth shooting. My prayers go out to everyone affected, especially Reese’s family, I went to school with her and she was amazing and so sweet❤️ stay strong.— Penny Oleksiak (@OleksiakPenny) July 23, 2018