By ALAN SHACKLETON
This Saturday, July 22, will mark five years since the Danforth Shooting that took the lives of two people and injured 13 others.
A memorial ceremony in honour of those impacted by the shooting on the night of July 22, 2018, in the busy area of Danforth and Logan avenues is planned for this coming Saturday.
Killed in the Danforth Shooting were Reese Fallon, 18, a recent graduate of Malvern Collegiate; and Julianna Kozis, 10, of Markham. Thirteen other people were also injured after being shot in the incident. The shooter also took his own life that night after being confronted by police in the area.
One of the 13 people wounded was Ali Demircan who was grazed in the back by a bullet while sitting with friends in Alexander the Great Parkette at Logan and Danforth. Demircan was close to where Fallon and her friends were also sitting when the shots were fired. He tried to help Fallon, but there was nothing he could do.
A southwest Scarborough resident, he will be attending this Saturday’s memorial of the shooting’s fifth anniversary which will begin at 5 p.m. at the north end of Withrow Park where trees have been planted in memory of Fallon and Kozis.
“I go every year (for the memorial) and I will be there for this fifth anniversary,” said Demircan in an interview with Beach Metro Community News last week. “I will be there to pay my respect to the families.”
Demircan said he is still haunted by memories of that July night five years ago.
“All the memories of that night are still alive for me…,” he said. “It’s still hard. People think it’s been five years and you are healing or feeling better but it will always be there. Especially at this time of year as the anniversary comes, it is very difficult to cope with it.”
He said the level of violence that continues to be seen in Toronto saddens him, and he is frustrated by what he considers to be a lack of action by all levels of government when it comes to dealing with violent crime, its causes, and supporting the victims of it.
Demircan said the lack of victim support services is a serious problem in Toronto and across the province and country. He himself was greatly in need of help after the shooting and found no formal help anywhere.
“There is totally no support. I don’t know what the victim services in Ontario and Toronto are doing,” he said.
“There’s a lot of shootings. There are a lot of people who are victims of gun violence,” added Demircan. “It has to be a public health issue and our governments don’t seem to support this.”
Claire Smith, mother of Samantha Price who was shot in the Danforth Shooting, agreed with Demircan regarding the lack of support for victims when it comes to counselling and dealing with the impacts of the violence that has been done against them.
Price was one of a group of friends out with Fallon celebrating a birthday party when they stopped at Alexander the Great Parkette for ice cream on the night of the shooting. The support of the group of friends who knew and loved Fallon has been critical to helping Samantha and the others who were at the parkette when the shooting took place, said Smith.
“She’s had a lot of friends and family supporting her, and that’s been her best support…That she’s not alone.”
Smith said the families of those killed and wounded face the middle of July with sadness.
“Never easy to have to remember that night, and this is the fifth year,” she said.
“The loss and strain of it, we all try to live with and go forward as best we can,” said Smith.
One way the victims support each other is through the Danforth Families for Safe Communities (DFSC) group. The organization advocates for stronger laws to control handguns, help victims of shootings, and find ways to stop such horrific crimes before they take place.
Some of the areas the DFSC has had an impact on include the federal government’s Bill C-21, which bans the sale and purchase of all handguns in Canada; the new National Day Against Gun Violence, and the Building Safer Communities Fund which provides funding to help steer young people away from guns, gangs and the criminal lifestyle.
Those are all positives, said Smith, but much more still needs to be done. For instance, though Bill C-21 was approved in the House of Commons it still has pass the Senate before becoming law.
“It has now gone to the Senate. We were hoping it would have passed by the summer…there’s a lot of really good things in it,” she said. “We will go to the Senate in the fall and speak on behalf of DFSC. We spoke to the House of Commons committees, and we are willing to go back and press on regarding the handgun freeze.”
Both she and Demircan were especially saddened by news of the shooting death of Karolina Huebner-Makurat, 44, a Leslieville mother of two young daughters who was hit by a stray bullet on the afternoon of July 7 while walking in the area and died later that afternoon in hospital. She was a completely innocent victim of the shooting, police said.
“Gun violence is not limited to specific areas of the city. It can be anywhere and anytime,” said Smith.
This Saturday’s memorial at Withrow Park, 725 Logan Ave. south of Danforth Avenue, is open to members of the community to attend.
Smith said some of victims and their families will be speaking. “Some are unable to do so though as it is still too much for them,” she said.