Businesses and residents reflect back on the mass shooting on the Danforth
One year after the Danforth shooting, businesses and residents who were on the bustling stretch of Toronto’s Greektown that night say they are still haunted by the memories.
“Today is a bad day,” said Chris Christodoulou. “It brings back bad memories of what happened that night.”
Christodoulou is the general manager of Soulas Modern Greek Cuisine. One year ago, he was on the patio serving customers when he heard what he thought were fireworks.
“We just heard the shots, and we, of course, at the beginning, didn’t know what it was until people were running and they were saying – somebody is shooting, somebody is shooting.”
Christodoulou quickly locked the doors and ushered his guests to the back of the restaurant. When he felt they were safe – he walked outside to see what had happened – and encountered a sight he wishes he could forget.
“I saw all these victims on the ground like a warzone.”
A few doors down, Andea Dyni says he too had a brush with death.
“I feel I’m lucky to be alive.”
The long-time server says last July 22, he walked right by shooter Faisal Hussain on his way home from Anestis restaurant, but something made him look away.
“I saw him. I put my head down because I think something is wrong with him,” Dyni said.
In the wake of the attack, many area businesses said customers stayed away and sales dropped. But they also added that business has since rebounded.
But for many, what has not been restored is a sense of safety and security.
“It gives me goosebumps to this day,” said nightclub owner Mary Fardas. “It’s impacted the way I move around the area.”
Resident Dave Bailey, who wore a “We the Danforth” shirt on Monday, said everyone is a little more jumpy.
“A few weeks ago we were sitting outside a café, and some balloons got loose from a display somebody had and cars were running over them, and people were dropping when they heard the bang.”
“It makes me tremendously sad,” says Cynthia Pandev, who has lived in the area for 33 years.
She says the atmosphere has changed.
“I think people are more wary of hanging out in the evening. I know I am.”
As for Christodoulou, on the anniversary of the Danforth attack, he says he is haunted by memories. He added said that while he knows businesses can recover, lives cannot be replaced.