'We don't know you, but we love you': Hundreds gather at Toronto van attack memorial

#TorontoStrong: hundreds come out to pay respects following van attack

The city of Toronto continued to band together the day after a deadly van attack in the city claimed the lives of 10 people and injured 15 others.

Candles and flowers piled up along the stretch of Yonge Street where a 25-year-old man allegedly drove a rented van down sidewalks Monday afternoon, striking pedestrians in his path.

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Alek Minassian, of Richmond Hill, Ont., has since been charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder and 13 counts of attempted murder.

Near the area where Monday’s carnage unfolded, well-wishers wept as they struggled to make sense of the violence that shattered the peace of a usually bustling neighbourhood that regulars describe as a safe haven.

WATCH: Toronto van attack: Resident tearfully calls incident ‘unthinkable’

The memorial was set up on the east side of Yonge Street, just below Finch Avenue, where the deadly incident took place.

Libby Roach, who has lived in the neighbourhood for 15 years, told Global News she visited the site because she couldn’t do anything else on Tuesday.

“I live just down the street and this is my old running route and this could have been any of us,” she said through tears. “I honestly couldn’t work, I couldn’t do anything today and I felt like coming here and I’m probably going to go give blood now if I can find a bank.”

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Roach was getting off the subway when she saw the surrounding streets shut down.

“This just isn’t supposed to happen, anywhere,” she said.

“You feel for this community considering that you live here, you shop here, you laugh with the people here, you go out here,” said neighbourhood resident Don-Antonio Andrew. “It’s a very traumatic time for this area and for your neighbourhood.”

WATCH: Toronto van attack: Woman tearfully describes her sadness while visiting van attack memorial

Andrew, who said one pedestrian got hit directly in front of his apartment building, came to lay flowers at the scene in a show of solidarity with the neighbourhood he described as one of the best he’s lived in since he moved to Canada.

Premier Kathleen Wynne along with Mayor John Tory visited the memorial to leave a message for the victims and to pay their respects.

“It’s very sober and very sombre,” Wynne told reporters. “I think it’s important for people to have a place to come to express their thoughts and their pain and you can just see by reading what people have written is that they so want to reach out and they so want to stand with the families.

WATCH: Toronto van attack: Kathleen Wynne, John Tory call memorial ‘sobering, sombre’

“One note I saw, ‘we don’t know you, but we love you,’ I think that’s the essence of what all the messages are,” she said.

Wynne said it’s hard to find the “right” words that will actually comfort those affected but she wants the city to know, on behalf of all of Ontario, that they are loved.

Tory echoed Wynne’s sentiments and said he was there for the same reason.

“This place will forever be a scar on the city of Toronto, but one thing about all scars is that they’re part of the healing process,” he said. “We love these people, they were our fellow Torontonians.”

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Claire Hurley, who was making her own floral contribution to the makeshift memorial, said the fatal attack was difficult to reconcile with the safe community she’s come to know.

“This always seems like a really safe neighbourhood, so it was a big shock,” she said while wiping back tears. “Everyone was out enjoying the sunshine, and enjoying life. I guess you just have to … enjoy every day.”

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A prayer and moment of silence was held at the site around 1:30 p.m. in honour of those who lost their lives and those who are still suffering in hospital.

A “Walk of Memory” is also scheduled for 6 p.m. along Yonge.

With files from The Canadian Press




© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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