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Malvern students identify 2 injured during Danforth shooting

News Staff | posted Wednesday, Jul 25th, 2018

Students at Malvern Collegiate Institute have identified two classmates who were injured during a mass shooting on The Danforth on Sunday night.

The students said Miranda Li and Samantha Price were out celebrating a birthday when the incident happened. It wasn’t clear how they were injured and whether they are in hospital.

Around 10 p.m., Faisal Hussain, 29, started shooting people outside a restaurant at Danforth and Logan avenues in Greektown.

He killed 18-year-old Reese Fallon, who also attended Malvern, as well as a 10-year-old girl before dying from a gunshot wound. Police haven’t yet revealed whether the wound was self-inflicted or the result of an exchange of gunfire with police.

The Toronto District School Board released a statement Monday saying Fallon had just graduated from Malvern.

“An engaging student, Reese Fallon graduated from Malvern CI just last month and was highly regarded by staff and loved by her friends,” said TDSB Director of Education John Malloy.

Malloy said supports would be available to any students who need them.

Another vigil to be held for Danforth shooting victims

The Canadian Press | posted Wednesday, Jul 25th, 2018

Residents of the Danforth and beyond will attend another vigil Wednesday night to mourn two people who were killed and 13 others left wounded in a horrific shooting on Sunday.

They will be joined by Mayor John Tory at 7 p.m. at a local church before they walk along Danforth Avenue bearing lanterns and candles.

On Monday evening, Toronto police identified a 10-year-old girl who was killed in the attack as Julianna Kozis of Markham, Ont. Police said in a news release that her family is asking for privacy while they grieve her death.

Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti said the city would lower its flags to honour the girl and that the community north of Toronto had been shaken and hurt by this “senseless act of violence.”

Reese Fallon, 18, who recently graduated from high school and was preparing to study nursing at Hamilton’s McMaster University in the fall, was also killed in the attack. Photos of the young woman have been left at makeshift memorials along Danforth Avenue.

A fountain in the Alexander the Great Parkette has become one of the main places for people to leave flowers, candles and messages.

“The people here are very friendly and it’s a very loving community,” said Marlene Julien. “What I see here is very touching.”

She said it’s important that the community comes together because residents of Greek town need support and positivity.

“We really need to embrace the opportunity to make a change,” said Julien. “We just need to bring back our peaceful Toronto that we had before.”

On Tuesday evening, heavy rain and a thunderstorm forced pedestrians to seek shelter in restaurants and bars on the Danforth.

7 Numbers restaurant at Danforth Avenue and Bowden Street was packed with customers happily drinking and eating with occasional mention of the gunman who was found dead after an exchange of gunfire with police just steps away.

Earl D’Almeida said he felt it was important to eat at a restaurant on the Danforth to support the community and local businesses.

“We’re here to show that we’re not scared and that we’re going to pick ourselves up and the community up.”

Activity in the area had largely come to a halt after Faisal Hussain, 29, fired indiscriminately at pedestrians and restaurant patrons.

He died after an exchange of gunfire with police but it remains unclear whether he took his own life or was killed by police.

Violent, anti-social behaviour down sharply among Ontario students, survey finds

Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press | posted Wednesday, Jul 25th, 2018

TORONTO – Violence and other anti-social behaviour among Grade 7 to Grade 12 students in Ontario has dropped significantly over the past two decades, according to one of the longest-running mental-health studies of its type.

In addition, results from the latest Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey being released Wednesday show a sharp overall drop in bullying, although cyberbullying remains a consistent problem.

“This decline in risk behaviours over time parallels the declines seen in drug-using behaviours … suggesting a wider cultural shift to less externalizing or rebellious behaviours among young people today compared with previous generations,” the researchers from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health say. “Ongoing monitoring will determine whether these trends reflect more enduring changes or temporary fluctuations.”

Other findings include 81 per cent of students saying they like school to some degree, with nearly half liking school quite a lot or very much.

The survey of students has been done every two years since 1977, making it the longest ongoing school survey of adolescents in Canada and one of the longest in the world, the researchers say. More than 11,000 students in Grade 7 through 12 from 214 schools took part in last year’s edition.

One of the most dramatic changes uncovered by the survey relates to the prescription of opioid pain relievers to students — an important finding given the current addiction and overdose crisis that has killed tens of thousands of people across North America in recent years. Over the past decade, medical use of prescribed opioids among students has plunged to 18 per cent from 41 per cent, the survey finds.

Among concerning trends, the survey indicates a growing number of the students — particularly girls — have symptoms of depression and anxiety. In fact, the study finds, slightly more than half of female students in Ontario show signs of moderate to serious psychological distress — the first time that threshold has been crossed since the survey started tracking the issue in 2013.

“Female students are more than twice as likely than males to report elevated stress, poor mental health, seeking mental health counselling, thoughts of suicide, and being prescribed medication for anxiety or depression,” said Dr. Hayley Hamilton, the survey co-lead.

While 19 per cent of students rate their mental health as fair or poor — sharply higher since 2007 — more than half say theirs is very good or excellent.

A key question for further research is the impact of technology on students’ well-being, in particular in light of the surge in time spent on social media in recent years.

In total, 20 per cent of students said they spent five or more hours on social media a day — almost double the finding in 2013. One in 20 high school students reported symptoms suggesting they had a serious problem with technology — such as a loss of control, withdrawal symptoms, and issues with family and friends.

“While the survey can’t tell us whether technology use causes mental health issues, or vice versa, there is some evidence from other studies that there may be a link,” said Dr. Robert Mann, also survey co-lead.

When it comes to bullying at school, about one in five students reported being victims — down sharply from one in three since 2003. However, the same number reported being cyberbullied — unchanged from previous surveys.

For the first time, the survey asked about concussions. More than one-third reported the injury in their lifetime, and 15 per cent — about 130,700 students — said they had experienced one in the past year — invariably from playing hockey or another team sport.

The study also turned up marked differences between girls and boys. For example, males are much more likely to engage in daily physical activity and get at least eight hours of sleep. They are also more likely to be anti-social, gamble, or spend excessive hours playing video games. Girls, however, are more likely to report inferior mental and physical health, physical inactivity, and fears of harm at school.

Danforth community mourns victims of mass shooting

The Canadian Press | posted Tuesday, Jul 24th, 2018

Residents of Toronto’s Danforth Avenue gathered for a prayer service on Monday night to mourn the victims of a shooting the previous night that left two people dead and 13 wounded.

The mood on the normally bustling street lined with restaurants, patios and boutiques was solemn after it was reopened by police. Candles, flowers and messages of support were left at various places along the street where gunshots were fired on Sunday night.

Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath and Toronto Mayor John Tory joined members of the Greek Town neighbourhood at a local church for the prayer service just steps from where the shooting took place.

“It was a church hall filled with love and many prayers were said for everybody,” said Tory, who walked along Danforth to speak with pedestrians and people sitting on patios after leaving the church.

“I felt that it was important to come out and not give in to fear,” said Laila Hawrylyshyn, who attended both the prayer service and the walk down Danforth. “I was out earlier today and it was very eerie and I just decided that this is about community more than anything.”

Residents have written messages of support, prayers and calls to end gun violence on scaffolding that had “Danforth Strong” spray painted in large letters.

A few steps away, people gathered at a fountain to leave flowers, notes and candles. Messages written in chalk around the fountain read “Greek town strong” and “We will not be afraid.”

At one restaurant where the shattered front windows were being replaced, a couple hugged each other and placed a bouquet of flowers next to stuffed animals and a pink balloon.

Police had earlier identified 18-year-old Reese Fallon as the Toronto woman who died in the shooting.

Jessica Harrison said she went to school with Fallon and that she attended the prayer service and vigil to remember her. She said she was “devastated” when she heard that Fallon had been fatally shot.

“I think everybody is pretty shocked,” said Harrison.

Police said the family of the second victim, a 10-year-old girl, did not want her name released at this time.

Investigators said six women and seven men ranging in age from 17 to 59 suffered injuries ranging from minor to serious in the shooting.

Ontario’s police watchdog identified the alleged shooter as 29-year-old Faisal Hussain, who died at the scene after a exchange of gunfire with police.

Hussain’s parents said Monday that they were devastated by their son’s “senseless violence.” They said in a statement that their son had struggled with psychosis and depression his entire life.

Reese Fallon, 18, identified as Danforth shooting victim

News Staff | posted Tuesday, Jul 24th, 2018

Local MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith has identified the 18-year-old victim of the Danforth shooting as Reese Fallon.

She was one of two civilians killed in Sunday’s shooting.

Erskine-Smith tells CityNews she was celebrating a birthday with two friends on the Danforth when the shooting happened. Her two friends were also shot and are currently in hospital.

Toronto District School Board released a statement saying Fallon had just graduated from Malvern Collegiate Institute.

“An engaging student, Reese Fallon graduated from Malvern CI just last month and was highly regarded by staff and loved by her friends,” said TDSB Director of Education John Malloy.

Malloy says the school will be open on Tuesday and supports will be made available to any students who need them.

The flags at Malvern CI and all TDSB administrative buildings will also be lowered to half-mast.

The other victim was a 10-year-old girl and her identity has not been released as per the family’s wishes.

Thirteen other people were injured.

Hedley lead singer Jacob Hoggard charged with sexual assault

News Staff and The Canadian Press | posted Tuesday, Jul 24th, 2018

Toronto and Peel police have charged Hedley’s lead singer Jacob Hoggard with sexual assault.

Police are alleging on three dates in 2016, he met with two women on separate occasions.

On those occasions, he allegedly sexually assaulted each of them.

Hoggard is facing three charges, two counts of sexual assault causing bodily harm and one count of sexual interference.

The 34-year-old from Vancouver will appear in court on Thursday at 2 p.m. in Toronto.

Toronto police launched an investigation into allegations of sexual assault by Hoggard back in March.

Hedley and Hoggard have been under fire since sexual misconduct allegations began surfacing online in February, suggesting inappropriate encounters with young fans.

The band announced soon after they would be taking an “indefinite hiatus” after the end of their Canada-wide tour on March 23.

In the fallout since allegations first surfaced, the group had been dropped by its management team, blacklisted by scores of radio stations and abandoned by musicians booked as tour openers.

Hedley also withdrew itself from consideration for the Juno Awards on March 24 and backed out of performing on the telecast.

Willowdale community reminded of van attack following Danforth shooting

MALEEHA SHEIKH | posted Tuesday, Jul 24th, 2018

A community still grieving the van attack that left 10 people dead and 16 others injured were shocked to hear the news of another tragic event almost three months to the day.

Mahin Shani works in Willowdale near where the van attack took place, but now she’s thinking about her daughter, who lives near the area where the Danforth shooting happened Sunday.

“People are a little bit tense especially with what’s happening over the last three, four months,” says Mahin Shani.

Shani said it’s happening everywhere and so she wouldn’t think of telling her daughter to move. She said, “What can you do other than hoping for the best?”

Sarath Reddy moved to Canada five years ago from India and also works in Willowdale. He said, “When I came here I never hear [sic] about these types of incidents and nowadays it’s every week every other week, we hear something like this.”

Reddy said, “We have to be safe and look around at what’s happening when you’re going anywhere.”

Lily Cheng, the co-founder of ‘We Love Willowdale’, a group created to help the community heal says she understands what the Danforth community is going through.

“The first step was to just gather. When you’re in pain you need to know you’re not alone in that pain,” said Cheng.

Cheng also stressed the importance community leaders getting involved. She said prayer walks and vigils helped deal with the emotions.

For those who find they are struggling, Cheng encourages them to reach out to Toronto Victim Services, faith groups and counselling services.

Danforth shooter identified as Faisal Hussain of Toronto

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Jul 24th, 2018

The SIU has identified the 29-year-old gunman in the horrific shooting on the Danforth that left two people dead and 13 others injured on Sunday night.

In a statement on Monday evening, the province’s police watchdog said “due to the exceptional circumstances of this tragic incident and the public interest in knowing the man’s identity, the SIU is identifying the man as Faisal Hussain of Toronto.”

The SIU says it spoke with a member of Hussain’s immediate family and a family representative to confirm his identity.

The Hussain family released a statement expressing their condolences to the families “who are now suffering on account of our son’s horrific actions.”

“We are utterly devastated by the incomprehensible news that our son was responsible for the senseless violence and loss of life that took place on the Danforth,” they said

They added that Hussain had “severe mental health challenges” and was struggling with psychosis and depression his entire life.

“Medications and therapy were unable to treat him. While we did our best to seek help for him throughout his life of struggle and pain, we could never imagine that this would be his devastating and destructive end,” they said.

A total of 15 people were shot when the gunman opened fire outside a restaurant at Danforth and Logan avenues in the heart of Greektown said Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders.

Saunders said the deceased woman, identified as Reese Fallon, (pictured below) was from Toronto. A 10-year-old girl from the Greater Toronto Area was also killed in the shooting, but her identity has not been released as per the family’s wishes.

Hussain also died from a gunshot wound, but it’s not yet clear if it was self-inflicted or the result of an exchange of gunfire with police.

On Monday evening, police released a statement saying they executed a search warrant at an apartment in the Thorncliffe Park Drive area as part of the ongoing investigation.

Officers conducted a forensics search of the area and any roads closed for the investigation have since reopened. Police say a small area around a local restaurant will still have a police presence, but traffic will not be affected.

 

The province’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU) said it is probing the circumstances surrounding his death. An autopsy is scheduled for Tuesday morning.

SIU spokesperson Monica Hudon said the shooter was involved in a brief exchange of gunfire with two Toronto police officers on Bowden Street, just south of Danforth Avenue.

“He was found deceased (on Danforth Ave.) after the interaction,” she confirmed.

No officers were injured.

The motive behind the attack remains a mystery, and Saunders said he wouldn’t speculate. “We do not know why this has happened yet,” the Chief said. “It’s going to take some time.”

On Monday, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama`at Canada released a statement condemning the shooting.

“We are shocked at the senseless violence that took place in Danforth, in which a child and young woman were killed, and many others injured, after a lone gunman opened-fire,” says National President of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama`at Canada, Mr. Lal Khan Malik. “Our sincerest thoughts and prayers are with those affected by this abhorrent incident.”

The 13 people injured range between the ages of 17 and 59. Saunders said their injuries ranged from “minor to serious.”

Toronto police swarmed the area after reports of reports of an active shooter and witnesses told CityNews that they heard up to 25 gunshots.

The injured were taken to various hospitals across the city. Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre said its trauma centre received three patients. Michael Garron Hospital, formerly the Toronto East General Hospital, said doctors treated seven people for various injuries, two of which were gunshot wounds. Five people were treated and released from Michael Garron. The two gunshot victims remain in hospital in stable condition.

St. Michael’s hospital received five victims. A trauma surgeon at the hospital said three of the victims underwent emergency surgery.

“I’m not calling it random. This person was here and he definitely shot. I don’t know why he did what he did.”
-Police Chief Mark Saunders

The SIU said the suspect was walking along the Danforth when he “fired shots at groups of people several times.”

Warning: The video below may be disturbing to some viewers. It also has some graphic language.

‘Cowardly act of violence’: Tory

Ahead of a city council meeting, which was recessed until Monday afternoon, Mayor John Tory called the mass shooting a “cowardly act of violence.”

“This is a tragedy, another tragedy in our city this year,” Tory said in council chambers.

“I’ve said for some time that our city has a gun problem … there are far too many people carrying around guns who should not have them.”

Late Sunday night, Tory said the shooting was a “despicable act.”

“I am outraged that someone has unleashed such a terrible attack on our city and people innocently enjoying a Sunday evening,” he said. “I would ask people not to draw any conclusions until we have more information from the police.”

“While our city will always be resilient in the face of such attacks, it does not mean such a cowardly act committed against our residents is any less painful — this is an attack against innocent families and our entire city.”

‘The most brazen shooting yet’: Ford

Ahead of Question Period, the Ontario legislature observed a moment of silence before Premier Doug Ford and other party leaders delivered their statements.

“Today the residents of this city and our entire province are in shock during a year in which we have already lost too many people to gun violence. Last night, we witnessed the most brazen shooting yet,” Ford said, adding that his thoughts go out to the victims of the shooting and their loved ones.

Ford also said that as a life-long resident of Toronto, he will always speak up for and defend the city.

“We’ve always been confident that this is a safe city. Today for too many, this confidence is shaken. But I want the people in Toronto to know that our entire province is behind you,” he added.

Ford said that while Sunday’s shooting “should be a cause for anger, it reminds us that the status quo is not good enough.”

“All of us can also do our part. If you know somebody in your life whom you believe is at risk of committing gun violence, I’m asking you to step forward [and] let the appropriate authorities know.”

Police investigating a motive

Saunders would not speculate on what the motive may have been behind the attack, including the possibility that it may have been a terrorist incident.

“I’m keeping everything open, I’m looking at absolutely every single possible motive for this,” said Saunders. “When you have this many people struck by gunfire it’s a grave concern. I certainly want to find out exactly what it is, so I’m not closing any doors or any chapters on this and I certainly don’t want to speculate as well.”

When asked by reporters at the scene, Saunders said this was not a random shooting.

“I’m not calling it random. This person was here and he definitely shot. I don’t know why he did what he did,” he said.

Saunders wouldn’t say how the suspect died but said it appears it may be from gunshot wounds. He also wouldn’t comment on whether the fatal shot was self-inflicted.

“I wasn’t there, we don’t know, we’re trying to descale it to the best of our ability to make sure that we’re accurate. I can tell you there was an exchange of gunfire,” he said.

Saunders said the suspect is not known to them at this time, but that he did use a handgun.

Somebody yelled ‘get down,’ witness says

The shooting happened in a neighbourhood known for its bustling cafes and restaurants. At the time, people were enjoying a summer evening out with family and friends. Some of the witnesses in the area said they saw people helping the victims before paramedics arrived. Residents in the area said they are in shock and disbelief.

Carter Ashenafi was having dinner with his family on the Danforth when shots rang out. He fled to the kitchen while his family went into the basement.

“I was with my family and we were just eating. We were finished eating, it was dessert. After we’re done that, the manager came and told us there’s been a shooting. And before the manager finished his sentence, they started shooting,” Ashenafi said.

 

Helen, who didn’t want her last name made public, lives on the Danforth and saw several of the victims.

“When I crossed the street I saw two women, maybe in their 20s, trying to be resuscitated and apparently one of them that I saw died. And then I saw another man at the corner store, cafe, and he was lying down and he also got shot. That’s what I saw.”

She said members of the public sprang into action to help the victims before paramedics arrived on scene.

“Before the ambulance came, people were trying to resuscitate the two girls. It was chaos though,” she said.

“I was trying to help this one woman, calm her down. Apparently her daughter texted her saying she was hiding in the bathroom in one of the restaurants and the mother was just chaotic trying to find where her daughter was and if she was safe. And she was safe.”

Jody Steinhauer said she was out celebrating a birthday on the Danforth at the time of the shooting.

“The restaurant was all open, because the doors were open, and it just sounded like really, really loud fireworks except it was much louder and more pronounced. And then immediately, within seconds, somebody yelled ‘get down,’” she explained.

“We just got all of the kids and everybody to the back of the restaurant, under tables. Everything just happened so fast it was frightening.”

Steinhauer said her boyfriend rushed out onto the sidewalk to help one of the victims.

“We heard a scream and one of the victims was shot right outside (our restaurant), and he went out and helped her with one of the people from the restaurant and carried her into the restaurant.”

Steinhauer said they tried to call 911, but they couldn’t get through and so used Twitter to get help.

“She was screaming and then we tried to call 911 but the circuits were down so we got on Twitter and reached out to (the media) to let everybody know what was going on and that we needed help immediately.”

More on the police investigation; witnesses sought

Police are asking anyone who may have witnessed the shootings or may have video or information about the shooting to contact them.

“We’re looking for anyone that saw anything, and this is critical, because what happens is a lot of times people will tend to vet out their information, when in fact it can be extremely important to our investigation,” Saunders said.

“It is very crucial for us to put all of these pieces together to figure out exactly what happened.”

It also appears police conducted a detonation but it is not clear for what reason or when it happened.

“We err on the side of caution whenever we have anything. We try to treat this like a jigsaw puzzle and we want to make sure we maximize the safety of the public, safety of the first responders that are here on scene. So anytime we have anything that even remotely looks innocuous, we’ll err on the side of caution,” Saunders said.

On Monday, Mary Fragedakis, who is the councillor for Toronto-Danforth, said the detonation was for a suspicious package.

“At the same time as [the shooting] was unfolding, there was also a suspicious package that was found and it had closed down Chester Station, and [police] had to detonate that,” she said.

Police dealing with spike in gun violence

The shooting comes on the same weekend Toronto police deployed dozens of additional officers to deal with a recent spike in gun violence in the city. But Saunders said the situation would have been much worse if police did not response as fast as they did.

“We had lots of [police] resources that were able to respond to it. I don’t have any issues to the response. I’m grateful that the officers that did respond — the first ones on scene — are not in harm’s way. They were put in harm’s way. This could have been a different story,” he said.

“But at the same token, I have victims … it certainly is not a day that I’m happy. I know that it could have been worse. I’m glad that the officers responded and I believe that with their quick response, [they] were able to resolve the situation much quicker.”

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