On Sunday evening at 6 p.m., some 50 people gathered in Yonge-Dundas Square to memorialize 24-year-old Ahmed Hassan, who was shot and killed at the Eaton Centre on Saturday, and show their support for the seven others who were wounded by stray bullets in the incident.
At the revolving-door entrance to the north side of the mall, wrapping paper was taped to the glass and individuals wrote messages of support, like “RIP” and “our prayers are with you.” Bouquets of flowers and teddy bears sat on the ground by the doors, through which many people fled the mall after hearing the shots that rang out in the food court the day before.
Typically, Yonge and Dundas is a place to gather—that popular destination where you meet a friend for a movie or watch some buskers. But Sunday, it was used to mark Hassan’s tragic death, the details of which are still emerging. (A suspect turned himself in earlier this morning.) Organized by freelance journalist Karen K. Ho after reading someone close to her age had been shot, the memorial was marked by small candles passed out in plastic cups while attendees shared their reactions and reasons for being there.
Everyone from MPPs Cheri DiNovo and Rosario Marchese to ESL student Kyle Smith described themselves as “shocked.” DiNovo, a United Church minister, added, “In a weird way, I hope we never understand senseless violence; it’s senseless for a reason,” noting that Toronto remains an extremely safe city for its size.
As the shooting took place in the evening in a crowded and identifiable place, the incident was especially resonant in that it could’ve happened to anyone—an aspect that motivated some to come out to the vigil.
Smith, 18, said, “It won’t lighten the burden for [Hassan's] family, but the empathy will be there. That state of empathy, I think, connects much more than if everyone goes their own way and acts as though nothing happened.”
Even Toronto Batman, the caped busker who regularly performs at the intersection, took off his gear and joined those grieving. “I wanted to light a candle … this is where I work and it’s important to pay my respect.”
A moment’s silence was observed by the huddled group at 7 p.m., after which they made their way home.