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Police set up outside the Eaton Centre shopping mall in Toronto, Saturday, June 2, 2012. Shots were fired at Toronto's downtown Eaton's Centre Saturday evening and at least two people were taken out on stretchers, local media outlets were reporting. (John Chidley-Hill/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Police set up outside the Eaton Centre shopping mall in Toronto, Saturday, June 2, 2012. Shots were fired at Toronto's downtown Eaton's Centre Saturday evening and at least two people were taken out on stretchers, local media outlets were reporting. (John Chidley-Hill/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Eaton Centre shooting victim 'alert and talking' after surgery, family says Add to ...

The 13-year-old Port Hope boy who was shot in the head Saturday while visiting Toronto’s Eaton Centre is alert and talking after complicated neurosurgery, according to his parents.

The boy was among the people wounded when gunfire broke out on the weekend in the mall’s food court. Police say the victim who was fatally shot, a 24-year-old man, was the intended target. Police arrested a suspect early Monday after he turned himself in at a police station.

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The boy’s parents released a statement Monday afternoon through the Hospital for Sick Children, where he was rushed immediately after he was wounded. “After complicated neurosurgery, we are happy to say that he is doing well, all things considered; he is alert and talking,” they said. “It will be a long healing process, but we are optimistic that he will recover.”

The family asked for privacy and thanked emergency medical services and medical professionals at Sick Kids, who “acted quickly to save [his] life.”

The boy had been visiting Toronto with his mother and sister, according to a family member.

After seeing a movie, the family decided to stop at the mall’s food court for a bite to eat, the family member said. But they were soon interrupted when the violence broke out and a bullet struck the boy’s head.

The family member said the boy was put into a medically-induced coma after surgery that removed part of his skull and aimed to reduce swelling. But the hospital later said the boy wasn’t and isn’t in a coma, that he is in fair condition _ meaning his vital signs give no cause for concern but he may be uncomfortable or have minor complications. The condition indicates he’s conscious and has a favourable outlook.

"He’s going to pull through this... he’s strong and he’s young," the family member said in an interview from Cobourg, Ont.

Nearby in Port Hope, a town of 16,500 about 100 kilometres east of Toronto, the boy attends Trinity College School. The private school for students in Grades 5 through 12 is one of Canada’s oldest educational institutions.

“We have talked about this terrible incident with our students in class and in chapel and we’ll continue to have those conversations, obviously, in the days ahead,” said Ashley DiNova, the school’s director of communications.

“He’s a very kind and caring young man and he’s missed at the school,” she said.

The boy does well academically, the family member said, and he enjoys playing hockey and skiing.

"He was just an innocent bystander that didn’t deserve this... [he’s] basically your typical teenage boy in Canada," the family member said, adding that the boy is shy and polite.

The fact he was caught in the middle of gunfire proves that something must be done about gun violence and gangs, the family member said. "It’s uncalled for."

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