Steve Kern doesn’t think of himself as a hero, just a Canadian doing the right thing.
But the Vancouver volunteer with St. John Ambulance and sergeant-major with the Canadian Armed Forces reserves may have helped save a life when gunshots rang out at the Toronto Raptors’ victory rally.
Four people were injured in the shooting near Bay and Queen streets near the southeast corner of Nathan Phillips Square. Police arrested three people at the scene and continue to search for a person of interest.
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Kern, who has 35 years’ experience in law enforcement, was enjoying the festival atmosphere amid a crush of people when the shooting happened.
“I’ve been in big crowds, but this was a super big crowd — wall to wall people, elbow to elbow,” he said. “Then about 3:30 p.m. I heard ‘Crack-crack-crack… crack’ and I recognized it immediately as gunfire.
“About a second-and-a-half later the crowd turned and started running, picking up kids, dropping bags and shoes and that. It was en masse, everyone was moving away from the gunfire. My training kicked in.”
Kern said he began weaving his way through the crowd towards where he’d heard the gunshots come from, and arrived to find two injured people on the ground.
A paramedic, a doctor and several other people had also rushed over to help. Kern said a nurse handed him some gloves and they got to work.
“She had a serious head injury. We were working with that,” he said.
“At the same time, so that we could do that job, a lot of Toronto police officers showed up, helped keep the crowd back, they brought in a perimeter fencing as well as the yellow tape, as we were still in an active shooting situation.”
Kern and the others were able to get both victims stabilized and loaded them one at a time into ambulances to be rushed to hospital.
He said there is no doubt the life of the woman he helped treat would have been at risk if she hadn’t received immediate care.
He said a team effort helped save those lives.
“I was just one of many that jumped in there,” he said. “When stuff hit the fan, we stepped out and headed in.”
Police are asking for the public’s help to locate the final person of interest in the shooting, a Caucasian man who is described as being between five-foot-nine and six feet tall with short, light brown hair and a heavy build. At the time, he was wearing a white button-down T-shirt and was last seen running westbound on Queen Street.