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Two dead, 12 injured in Danforth shooting rampage

Toronto Star logo Toronto Star 7/23/2018 Inori Roy - Staff Reporter
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Video by Associated Press

Two people are dead and 12 others are injured after a shooting rampage Sunday night on Danforth Ave.

The suspected gunman is also dead, Saunders said. All the injured victims had been taken to hospitals for treatment.

The police chief said there was an “exchange of gunfire” and that the alleged shooter had used a handgun. It was not immediately clear whether the alleged attacker had been killed by police or by self-inflicted gunshots.

The Special Investigations Unit, which probes deaths or serious injuries involving police, was on the scene early Monday morning.

Saunders said there was no information yet on the timeline of the shooting or any possible motive.

Witnesses described a man dressed in black, with a black hat, firing about 20 shots in the area. The scene extended over several blocks, roughly between Chester and Logan Aves.

Paramedics said multiple people were taken to hospitals and trauma centres, including the child who was transported to the Hospital for Sick Children.

Toronto Fire was called to the scene at 10:04 p.m., and requested additional ambulance support. Emergency Task Force officers arrived and began to cordon off several blocks. Police also confirmed that a suspicious package was being investigated.

Stavy Karnouskou was standing with a few friends outside Logo bar on the south side of Danforth, east of Logan Ave.

“I heard ‘pop, pop’ and then I turned because I thought it was fireworks … and then the mother of a friend of mine goes, ‘They’re shooting at us — run inside!’” Karnouskou said.

Karnouskou got a frantic call from her sister, who lives in a nearby apartment, worried because she couldn’t locate her fiancé. Karnouskou peered out and saw victims on the opposite sidewalk, both of whom appeared to be female.

About 10 minutes after the gunfire, Karnouskou went outside and saw two women on the ground, with bystanders trying to save them by doing chest compressions.

“One of them, I could see her legs were blue,” Karnouskou said, her voice trembling as she put her hand over her mouth. “I wanted to help her but didn’t know what to do.”

She also saw a man who had been shot, lying on the patio of Lukumum bakery and café, also on the north side, east of Logan Ave. Karnouskou said another man was trying to help him.

Karnouskou said it felt like at least 10 minutes before firefighters arrived, and she and others were upset that police didn’t get there sooner.

“I’ve lived on the Danforth for the last four years and there is always a police car around,” she said. “If there was a police car around this area, he wouldn’t have been shooting that long.”

Michael Kozaris was working inside Mezes restaurant, on the north side of Danforth, west of Logan, when he heard “pops.”

“I thought maybe fireworks, but the restaurant is noisy so I don’t think too much. But after the 10th shot, I think, ‘OK, something’s happening,’ and I see people at the patio jump up.

“A co-worker says, ‘It’s not bullets’ and goes outside to check and is standing there. We can hear shots but we can’t see anything,” Kozaris said.

“Another co-worker, Nick, a waiter, tells him to come in and grabs him and we hear two more bangs. And Nick goes, ‘F-, he shot me. Call 911, call an ambulance.’ And he’s got blood pouring off his hand. We think it was a ricochet off the door handle.”

Kozaris said he called 911 and was on hold for several minutes before someone ran outside to grab a police officer. The officer, he said, told his co-worker that an ambulance would come but he’d have to wait.

“Nick is losing blood. It’s everywhere, and he’s starting to pass out,” Kozaris said, so a friend drove him to nearby Michael Garron Hospital.

Kozaris said the last he’d heard was that his co-worker was being X-rayed and that they thought the bullet was still in his hand.

Jessica Young, an employee at Second Cup, near Chester subway station, said she saw the alleged attacker: “I look to my side and see the shooter through the window. He sees me, or he sees my co-worker or someone, and points the gun and shoots through the window.”

No one inside the café was injured, she said.

“He was probably no taller than me, wearing a black baseball cap, dark clothes. He had light skin. I think he had short facial hair. That’s all I could make out,” Young said, adding that the suspect appeared to have a pistol or handgun.

“I was shaken, terrified. It’s not every day you almost get shot,” she said.

Another woman who spoke to the Star said she was driving with friends eastbound on Danforth when she heard gunfire. The woman, who did not wish to provide her name, said she turned to see a man dressed in black, shooting directly into one of the stores on the north side.

“The glass had been broken and there were multiple shots — I would say around eight,” she said. “… He was aiming very directly with his legs open in a sort of stance.”

Video footage and photos posted online by bystanders appeared to show a man who matched descriptions of the shooter walking west along the sidewalk on the north side of Danforth Ave., east of Chester Ave., and firing into a storefront. The man was wearing a black ballcap and appeared to be carrying some type of bag.

A woman who gave her name only as Helen K saw police arriving while driving east on Danforth.

She walked to the north side of the street and saw two women severely injured on the ground. She said they both appeared to be in their 20s and people were trying to resuscitate them. She saw a man lying injured on the patio of the nearby bakery, amid overturned chairs.

“I was trying to calm down a woman who was trying to find her daughter, who texted her that she was hiding in a bathroom,” Helen said, adding she can’t believe anything so horrific happened in Greektown.

“On the Danforth? Everyone knows the Danforth, right? It’s safe. I don’t think anything like this has happened here. Now I don’t know what’s going to happen. It could happen anywhere.”

A woman named Diana interviewed by CP24 said she had been working at Demetres café, just east of Chester Ave., where she was serving a family that included the girl who was shot. She said she saw a gunman aim at the restaurant and heard him fire about three shots through the patio doors.

A woman who gave her name only as Mary said she was in Pantheon restaurant, on the south side of Danforth Ave., when she saw a young girl being placed on a stretcher and taken into an ambulance.

Gaylene Edmonson was sitting in her backyard nearby when she heard the first shot ring out. “I first heard it and thought it was a gunshot, because I’m paranoid about that sort of stuff,” she said, but she convinced herself at first that it was a firecracker. Edmonson believes she heard 15 to 20 gunshots that sounded as though they were moving away from her home.

Slideshow by Photo Services

John Tulloch said he and his brother had just got out of their car on Danforth when he heard about 20 to 30 gunshots.

“We just ran. We saw people starting to run, so we just ran,” he said.

Lenny Graf was with his wife and his son, 9, and daughter, 8, having dinner at Christina’s Restaurant when the kids asked to go play at the fountain in the Alexander the Great parkette.

Graf went along to supervise, and when he got outside he heard loud popping sounds.

“I thought it was firecrackers, except that people started to run away, and crouch down and scream,” Graf said.

He looked up and realized his son was crouched down near the fountain, about 10 feet from the shooter. He frantically looked for his daughter, who he later learned ran back into the restaurant.

“I crouched a bit, and then I thought, OK, what do I do? I crouch down, I get shot? I run I get shot?

The gunman, who was dressed in all black, was on the sidewalk on the north side of Danforth, near the fountain, Graf said.

“I saw him finish shooting some people and then walk away,” Graf said.

The gunman appeared to be shooting at random, like someone “in a video game.”

Police were appealing for witnesses to come forward and were loading several people who were still at the scene onto several city buses to take them to local police divisions. © RICHARD LAUTENS / TORONTO STAR Police were appealing for witnesses to come forward and were loading several people who were still at the scene onto several city buses to take them to local police divisions.

“He was very relaxed, it was pretty disturbing. I always thought if I was up against a guy shooting people, I would run up and grab the gun or something, but there was no way to do that.”

Graf said the gunman continued walking west on the Danforth. He worried he would come back, so he grabbed his son and took him around to the alley, and took the back door into The Friendly Greek.

There, he coincidentally found his wife and his family — they had run into the restaurant too in an effort to get out.

Graf said he remembers seeing someone on the ground, then seeing paramedics and police arrive.

Mayor John Tory, who was on the scene Sunday night, offered his condolences to families of the victims and urged residents not to jump to conclusions about what transpired and why.

In a statement, Tory called the shooting a “despicable act” and thanked first responders who had rushed to aid the victims.

“On behalf of all Toronto residents, I am outraged that someone has unleashed such a terrible attack on our city and people innocently enjoying a Sunday evening,” Tory said.

“... 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,” Tory said.

Premier Doug Ford said via Twitter: “My heart goes out to the victims and loved ones of the horrific act of gun violence in Toronto. Thank you to all the first responders for acting quickly to help everyone affected.”

Saunders appealed for witnesses who might have information or video footage from the area to call police or CrimeStoppers.

Danforth Ave. from Broadview to Pape Aves. will remain closed for the investigation until noon on Monday, police said.



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