Idene Miller awoke early Sunday morning to the sound of her phone ringing. The bed that she shared with her 26-year-old daughter Livvette, whom she described as her best friend, was empty.
It was just after 2 a.m. and Livvette was on the phone, explaining that she had locked her keys in the car. She said she would walk back to the Prestige Palace nightclub, where she had been celebrating a friend's birthday, and make arrangements to get home.
An hour later, Ms. Miller called her daughter again. A stranger's voice on the end of the line told her that Livvette had been shot and killed.
"I screamed," Ms. Miller said in an interview at her home yesterday. "I said I hope not. He said there was some shooting and he believed that it was my daughter who was shot and she died on the spot.
"That's my life, my friend, everything. We were very, very close."
Police confirmed yesterday that Livvette Miller died after a bullet intended for someone else pierced her skull and severed her brain stem. They could not say what motivated the shooting, but said there was more than one shooter involved. Six other people were shot in the incident and are expected to survive.
It is the third tragedy to befall the Miller family in a year. On June 22 last year, Livvette Miller's husband and the father of her four children died of lung cancer.
Less than three weeks later, her 33-year-old brother, David, was gunned down in Jamaica.
Ms. Miller, 60, broke the news to her daughter's four children on Sunday.
The eldest, 10-year-old Jahleel, could sense something was wrong, she said.
"I said Jahleel, your mom got shot at that party. He asked if she was okay. I said no, no she's not. Then he started crying."
Seven-year-old Chynel, and six-year-old Sean, named for his late father, Sean Moore, are too young to really understand, Ms. Miller said, as is five-year-old Tyrel. They've already buried one parent so they will eventually understand what happened to their mother, she said.
Yesterday, Chynel sat on the couch in the living room of their two-storey townhouse surrounded by friends and family, many of whom wept around her. As she pulled at her lip with her thumb and forefinger, she said she was sad that her mother had died and that she was mad at the people who shot her.
Ms. Miller said she will now care for the children.
Livvette Miller had been through a great deal in the past year and was trying to put her life back together. The onset of her husband's cancer last spring was sudden, and he died within weeks of the diagnosis. Just last month, she succeeded in moving her family out of Rexdale to a quiet suburban home in Brampton, which her friends say was an important step in building her new life.
She was planning to enroll at nearby Sheridan College for summer classes, but was still coming to terms with the death of her husband. She had barely been out since he died, and was coaxed into going to the Prestige Palace by well-meaning friends.
Detective Wayne Banks of the homicide squad described her killing as a heinous crime, and said he hopes it will represent a turning point in the investigation of nightclub shootings, in which witnesses are often reluctant to come forward.
"These young children lost their father last year to cancer, and now they've lost their mother to a bunch of cowards. So I'm appealing to the people who were at this nightclub to please come forward and speak with homicide investigators," Det. Banks said.
There were close to 200 people in the nightclub when the shots were fired, and shots could still be heard when the first police officers arrived on the scene several minutes later.
Det. Banks said police have spoken with the six other people who were shot that night and said none of them is a suspect.
A trust fund has been set up for the four children at the Royal Bank under sort code 8932-5108923.