TORONTO — A lively Toronto neighbourhood known for its restaurants and nightlife was the scene of panic and chaos on Sunday night as a gunman fired at unsuspecting bystanders, killing two and injuring 13 others before being found dead. As police work to determine the motive behind the rampage, those who were in the area known as Greektown recounted what they saw and heard.
Laurie Gutmann was at Christina’s restaurant on Danforth Avenue when he heard gunshots and scrambled for cover at the back of the room.
In a Facebook post, Gutmann said he saw a wounded woman on the patio, screaming for help.
“She had been shot in the back of her thigh,” said Gutmann, who had been at the restaurant celebrating his partner’s birthday. “Her blood was all over the ground. Together with some of the staff, we helped bring her safely inside so she could lay down on a bench and we could try to help as best as we could.”
Two doctors — a married couple who had been eating at Christina’s — tended to the woman, while one of the servers held her hand, Gutmann said.
“I called 911 but the lines were so busy, I couldn’t even get through,” he said.
His partner, Jody Steinhauer, was able to contact emergency services through social media, to tell them there was a shooting victim at the restaurant, he said.
“A member of Toronto Fire Service arrived and was followed very shortly thereafter by an entire team of first responders including paramedics, police and fire service people (who) put the victim on a gurney and rushed her to hospital,” Gutmann said.
Lenny Graf was eating dinner at The Friendly Greek restaurant with his wife, their nine-year-old son Jason and one of Jason’s friends Sunday night and took the kids to play by a fountain in a parkette at Danforth and Logan Aves.
“I heard what I thought were firecrackers and then when I noticed that people started to get scared and run away and duck I realized there must be some sort of shooting,” he said. “My first instinct was to try and find Jason and I saw him crouched behind the fountain.” Graf said his son was just three metres from the man who was shooting.
As Graf saw the man stop firing and begin to walk away, he grabbed his son and took him through an alleyway, to the back of the restaurant, where his wife and his son’s friend had taken shelter. They stayed in the restaurant until they saw police arrive and were told it was OK to come out.
Sara Pearsell was eating dinner with her boyfriend when she saw police flooding into the area.
She said she checked Twitter and saw reports of the shooting.
“We went outside, and the cops were like, ‘Yeah, please stay away, it’s not OK,'” said Pearsall, who has lived in the neighbourhood for about five years, and works at a bar just east of where the shooting took place.
“There were five or six ambulances that started zooming in. It was pretty crazy,” she said.
When the couple overheard on a police radio that the incident was over, they got their bikes and quickly rode out of the area.
“We were like, ‘Let’s just get out of the way,'” Pearsell said. “Where we were standing, like 12 cop cars came rushing around, parked and (officers) came out running … That’s my sign to get out of there.”
Ryan Granville-Martin was heading home from a walk with his wife when he heard sirens screeching through his neighbourhood, half a block from Danforth Ave.
Police cars, ambulances and panicked bystanders filled the street, he said.
“It was a scene that I’ve only seen the likes of on TV or in movies,” Granville-Martin, 43, said. “It was just blocks in both directions as far as I could see lights and emergency vehicles and the whole street shut down and a lot of people around.”
It was a shocking, confusing scene, said Granville-Martin, who set about trying to contact friends and loved ones, making sure they were all right.
Suzanne Kanso was sitting in her friend’s car at Danforth and Carlaw avenues when, around 9:40 p.m., she heard a pop.
Thinking the noise had come from firecrackers, the pair kept chatting until police began to arrive about 15 or 20 minutes later, Kanso said.
“All we saw was just one cop car coming after the other,” she said. “We saw people running towards Pape and Danforth from the crime scene … At that point, like a dozen cop cars were there, (police with) big guns.”
Dmytro Doblevych was driving home with a friend Sunday night when he saw about five police cars race past.
“As we arrived at Pape and Danforth, we saw gawkers, police cruisers flashing (their lights) and Danforth cordoned off both ways,” Doblevych wrote in a Facebook post.
Doblevych, who identifies himself on Facebook as a freelance cameraman and editor, posted a video that shows police examining the scene of the shooting.
“Can’t believe it happened at Danforth and Logan, where I’ve been so many times,” he said in his post. “Hope there are as few victims as possible.”
Andreas Silaidis said he heard about six gunshots, looked out his window and saw people running and a few bodies on the ground.
“There were cops everywhere,” Silaidis said.
He said he saw three people getting taken out of a restaurants on stretchers and paramedics rushing to help a few people who were on the ground.
“I never thought something like this would happen where I live.”
Nick Balkos said he had closed his restaurant about 15 minutes before he saw the shooter go past.
“He was running across the street yelling something and then he fired six to 10 shots into the Second Cup,” said Balkos.
“He was shooting while he was running,” he said, adding that it looked like the shooter started reloading his gun.
“Then I heard a bunch of other shots,” Balkos said. “He looked angry.”
Ramona Moore said she was having a drink with friends when one of them said he heard gunshots.
Moore said she saw police officers outside with their guns drawn a few minutes later.
“There was about 15 (officers) running around obviously looking for someone. It was like watching a movie,” Moore said.
“It all happened so fast,” she said, adding she then smelled gunpowder.
Police then told the customers to stay in the bar, she said.
Moore said it was about two hours before they could leave the bar.
Tanya Wilson, whose Facebook profile says she is the owner of Skin Deep Inked Tattoo Studio, posted video of police and paramedics attending to victims in what appeared to be her shop.
Another clip showed blood, rubber gloves and other detritus on the floor of the studio.
“My heart is hurting for the victims,” Wilson said in a Facebook post accompanying the videos.
— By Peter Goffin, Adina Bresge, Alanna Rizza, Allison Auld, Holly McKenzie-Sutter and Kelly Geraldine Malone
The Canadian Press