Torontonians shaken but steadfast in wake of Eaton Centre shooting

Jordana Divon
Contributing Writer
Daily Brew

It's been two days since 24-year-old Ahmed Hassan was gunned down in the middle of a crowded food court, but the reverberations from the volley of 15 bullets have been ringing ever since.

Toronto police confirmed that the alleged gunman has turned himself in after Saturday's Eaton Centre bloodbath, a horrific dinnertime hit during which the suspected target, Hassan, died and six others were wounded — including a 13-year-old boy who was shot in the head and now remains in a coma.

But by Monday morning, throngs of regulars have returned to the downtown area and the mall has reopened for business.

Though shaken and angered, the Globe and Mail writes that many Torontonians refuse to be cowed by what police suspect to be a targeted, gang-related hit, or as Toronto's acting deputy police chief Jeff McGuire phrased it, "one idiot with a gun."

"There's a lot of cops and it's crowded. I feel pretty sure it will not happen again… I feel pretty safe," said New York Fries employee Elihja Ampioco, who took cover behind his booth Saturday as the gunman started shooting.

Others echoed Ampioco's sentiment that this was a relatively isolated incident.

"We can't be hiding in our homes, crouching in the fetal position," James Le said. "The reason people are so shocked is because this rarely happens."

But the Toronto Sun reports that at least two city councillors are worried Saturday's incident could trigger another "summer of the gun" as gangs become increasingly brazen.

"Individuals that like to do damage have crawled out of their hole and are going to cause trouble," said Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti.

Councillor Adam Vaughan stressed the need to be proactive.

"We have really got to focus on making sure we've got kids engaged and busy doing productive things this summer," he told the Sun. "These things, if you don't manage them, they become big and scary fast."

Globe and Mail columnist Marcus Gee also asked some pointed questions about why gun violence has risen significantly this year to 99 shootings (compared to last year's 69 at this time).

"Are we doing enough, at all levels of government and law enforcement, to control firearms? Are we being generous enough — more to the point, smart enough — about addressing the social ills like fatherlessness that seem to breed the hard cases that are doing so much damage to our social fabric?" he wrote.

Vancouver officer Const. Doug Spencer posed one theory, telling The Canadian Press that gangs are increasingly taking their battles into the public domain to gain "fame and notoriety."

And while Saturday's gunman managed to achieve both ends, Toronto's residents won't allow him to take away their freedom.