Story by Ron Fanfair, Toronto Police Service
Within minutes of the first radio call reporting a mass shooting on Danforth Ave. on the night of July 22, 2018, Constables Nicholas Lawson and Tyler Brettell were on the scene.
The 41 Division frontline officers were conducting proactive enforcement at a building near Danforth and Pharmacy Avenues. as part of the Toronto Police Summer Safety Initiative when they heard the radio call and responded. As they entered the 7Numbers restaurant on Danforth Ave., the officers encountered Danielle Kane, who was shot in the chest.
“My partner brought a trauma kit with him to the incident site and I identified myself as a former Toronto paramedic and offered to begin first-aid treatment,” said Lawson, who joined the Service 11 years ago. “I was able to expose Danielle’s wounds and put together several dressings to form a chest seal and stop the bleeding.”
When EMS arrived, Lawson helped them secure Kane to a backboard so she could be taken to a waiting stretcher and rushed hospital, along with many other victims that night.
An 18-year-old woman and a 10-year-old girl were killed while 13 other victims – ranging in age from 10 to 59 – were treated in hospital. The shooter, identified as 29-year-old Faisal Hussain of Toronto, also died after being confronted by responding officers.
Lawson and Brettell spent almost 12 hours with Kane and her boyfriend, Jerry Pinksen, at hospital that night. Pinksen, who is a nurse, was shot at in the restaurant while his girlfriend was left paralyzed after a bullet shattered part of her spine. They had both been coming to the aid of other victims when confronted by the gunman.
On Sept. 17, the officers visited Kane, who was rehabilitating at the Lyndhurst Centre, and presented her with a glass shadow box containing various Toronto Police patches and a replica Toronto Police car. Pinksen is very appreciative of the support rendered by the two officers.
“On the night of the shooting, Tyler was there with me talking all the time while Nicholas was by Danielle’s side,” he said. “They were very supportive and caring during the ordeal. Since the incident, they have visited us and it was nice for them to do that. This is the first time I have really had any interaction with Toronto Police officers and I must say how happy I am with the professionalism and empathy they displayed.”
Pinksen said Kane is receiving outpatient rehab.
“She is doing very well and we are getting accustomed to our new residence,” he said.
Lawson said he and his partner were moved by Jerry and Danielle’s resilience at the time of the shooting and in its aftermath.
“It’s the longest time I have ever spent with a victim at a crime scene,” he said. “We were very upset when we learned she was paralyzed from the waist down and would be unable to walk again.”
The community has raised more than $200,000 to help offset the cost of Kane’s treatment and accessibility needs.
Photo: Constables Tyler Brettell and Nicholas Lawson with Danielle Kane and Jerry Pinksen