[Anglican Journal, by Joelle Kidd] Two Anglican churches in Toronto are offering space for prayer after a shooting in Toronto, Ontario on Sunday night (22 July), which left two dead and 13 others injured. The gunman, whose identity has not been released, was found dead in a nearby alley after an exchange of gunfire with police, according to the Globe and Mail. It is unclear if the shooter died by suicide.
The shooting began around 10 pm on Sunday 22 July, on Toronto’s busy Danforth Avenue, the city’s Greektown. Witnesses describe a man dressed in all black shouting and shooting a handgun as he walked down the street.
In the morning on Monday 23 July, The Redeemer Toronto, announced on Twitter that the church would be open for prayer. “If you need a quiet place to be in light of the shooting on the Danforth please know that you are welcome here,” the post reads.
St Matthew’s Anglican Church Riverdale also opened for prayers beginning at 5 pm Monday night. In a Facebook post, Catherine Sider Hamilton, priest in charge at St Matthews, voiced prayers for the victims, in particular a young girl, aged eight or nine, who is reported to be in critical condition.
“We think too of the young man who committed these acts of violence and pray for his soul,” the post reads. “Pray for our city, that we may remain open and hopeful; that we may be a place of peace.”
Archbishop Colin Johnson, archbishop of the dioceses of Toronto and Moosonee and metropolitan of the Ecclesiastical Province of Ontario, also responded with a statement of prayer and condolences to the victims of the attack.
“It is not the first, and unfortunately it will not be the last, violence we have witnessed. But these individual acts do not and will not define us as citizens of this great city,” Johnson’s statement reads. “We cannot succumb to feat and mistrust. We are resilient and peaceful, daring to work together to build a rich and diverse community where all can find a secure place to belong and contribute.”
The statement also added that St Barnabus on the Danforth, which is located near the site of the shooting, was to open Monday for “prayer and counsel.” An interfaith vigil was organised for Tuesday, the statement adds.
Politicians including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, and Ontario Premier Doug Ford have responded to the attack with condolences to the victims and their families and words of thanks for the city’s first responders.
Toronto Mayor John Tory has called the shooting an “unspeakable act,” telling city council that “gun violence in any part of our city is horrible and completely unacceptable,” according to the CBC. “While our city will always be resilient in the face of such attacks, it does not mean such a terrible act committed against our residents is any less painful.”
The attack follows a recent spate of shootings in the city, which prompted a $15 million [CAD, approximately £8.73 million GBP] gun violence reduction plan. It also comes on the heels of the April attack in Toronto’s North York district after a rental van, allegedly driven by Alek Minassian, plowed into pedestrians, killing 10 and injuring 16.