Evelyn Fox convinced her son not to join the army because she feared he might die overseas in a war.

She never imagined his life would end in his Toronto hometown after a night out with friends.

Kiesingar Gunn, 26, was killed by a stray bullet in Toronto’s Liberty Village in September 2016 while trying to back up a friend intervening in a fight on the street. The shooter has not been apprehended.

Gunn was a father of four and had never been involved in violence, says Fox. He worked at an industrial racking manufacturer and was planning to go back to school so that he could open a home renovation business.

“I thought I was in a safe zone. Violence had never impacted my family before. My son was the first person in my family to graduate from high school. He worked hard to support his family.”

Fox says the first year after her son’s death was a haze.

“It’s the brain’s way of protecting yourself, I guess.”

But after that first year, reality descended along with depression, suicidal thoughts, and fantasies of retribution playing in a continual loop.

“It’s so surreal. I guess that’s the best way to put it. I still expect he will just show up one day. It’s a nightmare you don’t wake up from.”

 

Gunn’s three younger siblings have been devastated, along with his own children, who were ages 6, 5 and 1 when he died. He adored and doted on his children, says Fox. He was kind and loving, a jokester who never waited to be asked to help, he just pitched in.

He learned that early, says Fox. As a 14-year-old, he would pick up his younger siblings at daycare, bring them home, feed, bathe them and put them to bed, while making sure the house was spotless when his mom, raising four kids on her own, came home from work.

Fox spoke of her "unrelenting grief" at a news conference in September, when police announced a $50,000 reward in the unsolved murder of Kiesingar Gunn.

Fox, along with another mother who lost a son in a shooting, have founded Community for Zero Violence.

They are focused on supporting the victims left behind because Fox says there is “absolutely no support for survivors.”

Fox joined Toronto police detectives in September to appeal to the shooter and witnesses on the street to come forward.

“I see the homicides happen and it’s almost like a retrigger for me to think that another mother has to go through this and another mother has to deal with the fact that they aren’t going to see their children again,” she said at the news conference, held on the second anniversary of her son’s death.

Homicide Det. Leslie Dunkley describes how Gunn, a father of four, was not the intended target of the shooting.

Police say Gunn was not an intended target and are offering a $50,000 reward for information leader to conviction of his killer.

Fox says a handgun ban – advocated by Toronto city council – will have no effect on criminals or the root causes of gun violence.

She says young people need direction and programming that builds their sense of community. Instead, they are constantly told they aren’t welcome or are pushed out to the streets when they are causing trouble at school.

“There is a report into this that is 10-years-old that still hasn’t been implemented. It enrages me to think my son could be alive today… A gun ban won’t do anything about gang violence.”