'She couldn't feel her legs': Boyfriend of Danforth shooting victim speaks out
TORONTO -- A nursing student who took a bullet to the spine while rushing to help a wounded victim of the Toronto Greektown shooting is gradually coming out of a medically induced coma, but the full extent of her injuries is not yet known, her boyfriend said Tuesday.
Danielle Kane, 31, was shot as she and her partner, nurse Jerry Pinksen, rushed out of a Danforth Avenue restaurant on July 22, hoping to put their life-saving training to use.
"Doctors said that worst-case scenario, she's in a wheelchair with the use of her arms and torso, and best-case scenario she's going to be walking with an aid or a walker of some sort," said Pinksen, 35, who has been with Kane for nearly two years.
"I've been through some emotional distress but Danielle right now is suffering from potentially a lifelong deficit, so I want to make sure that people recognize how selfless she was, trying to race out there and help someone, not knowing what we were going to meet outside the door."
Kane, who studies nursing at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, had immediately wanted to help, Pinksen said.
"Those compassionate, selfless tendencies, they're why we fell in love, and that's why we're together right now."
The shooting left 10-year-old Julianna Kozis and 18-year-old Reese Fallon dead, and 13 others injured.
Shooter Faisal Hussain, 29, who walked down the street spraying bullets into shops and restaurants, was found dead steps away from where Kane and Pinksen had been dining. Hussain's parents later released a statement saying their son had suffered from "severe mental health challenges" and struggled with psychosis and depression.
Kane and Pinksen were celebrating a friend's birthday on a restaurant patio that Sunday evening when they heard 10 or 12 shots ring out. Servers called them back into the building for safety, but when a woman ran in saying she had just seen someone get shot outside the restaurant, Pinksen said he and Kane knew they had to act.
"I just had this overwhelming feeling that I have the training, I have the knowledge, I can help this victim," said Pinksen, who works at Michael Garron Hospital, not far from the site of the shooting.
Pinksen said he left the restaurant through a side door, thinking it would be safe.
"I looked across the street and I made eye contact with the shooter," he said. "I kept walking, he was so calm I didn't even think about it. Then I heard a clicking sound and I looked back again and that's when he raised his hands very quickly and opened fire."
Pinksen said he ducked out of the way, but heard a scream behind him, followed by his friend saying Kane had been shot. He said he found his girlfriend lying by the restaurant and began performing first aid.
"She said it was the most pain she had ever experienced and she couldn't feel her legs," Pinksen said.
A bullet had entered the left side of Kane's chest, passed through her stomach and ricocheted off her spine before exiting through the right side of her chest, Pinksen said.
"(Doctors said) she had quite extensive internal damage with a spinal cord injury," he said. "We won't know exactly what the severity is until she starts her rehabilitation and recovery."
Kane was conscious until she went into surgery the morning after the shooting, and has been under sedation and on a ventilator since then, Pinksen said.
Over the past three to four days, doctors have been trying to ease Kane off the breathing machine, slowly reducing her sedation so she can breathe on her own and follow commands, he said.
"She's still very agitated and we don't know what she's thinking or what she is working through," Pinksen said.
Once she is well enough, Kane will begin rehabilitation, and Pinksen said he plans to be by her side the whole way.
"I want to make sure I am going to provide the life for her that she has the least amount of barriers so that she can keep her autonomy and be an independent woman like she was before this tragic event," he said.