Exactly one year after a lone gunman opened fire on a patio-lined strip of Danforth Ave., Torontonians are expected to gather for a sunset candlelight vigil in Alexander the Great Parkette Monday night.
Those being remembered are 10-year-old Julianna Kozis and 18-year-old Reese Fallon, who were fatally shot just after 10 p.m. on July 22, 2018 when Faisal Hussain walked down Danforth Ave., firing into restaurants and patios and sending panicked patrons enjoying a warm summer night running for cover.
The vigil will also include a reading of the names of the 13 others who were injured in the shooting, including Danielle Kane, who is now paralyzed from the waist down after being shot while rushing out to help others.
Hussain, 29, fatally shot himself in the right temple in front of the Danforth Church with the Smith & Wesson .40 calibre handgun he used in the attack — a weapon police have since said was reported stolen in 2016 after being legally acquired by a Saskatchewan gun shop.
Police found the gun next to his body alongside two fully loaded handgun magazines, and a satchel which carried three more loaded magazines. A search of his apartment found a stockpile of more ammunition, including two loaded magazines for an AK-47 assault rifle, though no such gun was recovered.
Hussain shot himself moments after exchanging gunfire with two Toronto police officers, Consts. Volodymyr Zvezd’Onkin and Hongfei Zhou in an alleyway near Bowden Ave. Ontario’s police watchdog, the Special Investigations Unit, cleared the officers of any wrongdoing, saying their conduct was commendable during what were perilous circumstances.
Sylvia Jones, former minister of community safety and correctional services, has since recommended Zvezd’Onkin and Zhou for the Ontario Medal of Police Bravery.
Last month Toronto police released the findings of their nearly yearlong probe into the shooting, concluding that Hussain had no affiliation with any radical ideology or terrorist organizations but was a “troubled individual” who had a documented mental health history dating back two decades.
“We may never know the answer to why,” Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders told reporters after releasing the report last month.
The Toronto police probe included interviews with family, colleagues and acquaintances, a review of hospital and school records and a scouring of Hussain’s online life and revealed Hussain’s lengthy history of mental health issues, including suicidal and violent thoughts and anti-social tendencies.
Prior to the shooting, Hussain had no criminal record. Police had been called to separate emergency mental health emergencies involving Hussain, including after he began cutting his face with a razor blade at school and when he called 911 to report suicidal thoughts.
In a statement Monday, Saunders called the shooting “a tragic attack on our citizens and community that altered many lives forever.”
“It is important that we mark this day together. This incident is a reminder of our community’s resilience. A year ago, we responded with solidarity and strength, and it is solidarity and strength that we continue with today,” he said.
The vigil is scheduled to begin at 8:51 p.m., the time of tonight’s sunset.
Wendy Gillis is a Toronto-based reporter covering crime and policing. Reach her by email at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter: @wendygillis