'I didn’t ask to be shot': Woman hit by bullet in Brampton, Ont. calls for more support for gun violence victims
A 44-year-old woman who was shot outside of a banquet hall in Brampton, Ont. last month is calling on the provincial government to provide more supports for victims of gun violence as she navigates a lengthy recovery.
In the early hours of Dec. 19, shots rang out near the Chandni Convention Centre, located near Queen Street East and Torbram Road. Sabrina Ferri, who was attending a party at the centre, told CTV News Toronto that she and two others left the facility around 3:30 a.m. after a fight broke out inside.
As they were walking down the steps in front of the convention centre, Ferri heard a “weird sound.”
“I wasn’t sure if it was a gunshot because it wasn’t a loud ‘boom, boom, boom’,” she said. “We just heard noise and people screaming and everyone running and scattering.”
The group of friends started trying to leave the area but Ferri suddenly had a hard time breathing. She realized she had been hit by a bullet.
They rushed to a nearby police officer and Ferri was taken to Sunnybrook Hospital, where she went through emergency surgery.
The bullet, she said, struck her left lung, as well as her diaphragm, stomach and liver.
Nearly one month later, Ferri said that her stomach has not healed and she still has difficulty breathing. Thirty-five staples were removed two weeks ago, but she said the “underneath healing process is the worst.”
“They said it could be up to three to six months before I'm somewhat back to a normal state where my body's healed, but not where I could be physical.”
In addition to the physical and mental challenges of her recovery, Ferri said she is struggling financially as a result of her injuries.
Two weeks before she was shot, Ferri was let go from her job. She is receiving employment insurance, but worries that if her recovery takes more than six months, the money will start to dry up and she will still be out of a job.
She reached out to provincial and local victim services, but to her dismay, she was only entitled to a one-time sum of $1,000. She was also offered counselling through a social worker and was provided a list of food banks in Peel Region.
“I could be on the verge of losing (my home) because the police and the government can't control where the guns are coming from and getting them off the street,” Ferri said. “And now I am in a situation where I have to worry about how I am going to pay for my mortgage. How am I going to pay for my car? I'm going to lose everything.”
“I didn't ask to be shot.”
Ferri said it isn’t just about financial support, adding that she can’t clean her house or change her bedsheets—and because there is a pandemic and she is now immunocompromised, she has to be very careful about who she lets into her home.
Ontario's Criminal Injuries Compensation Board (CICB) previously provided monthly or one-time funding to victims injured in a criminal act. However, the legislation that funded the CICB was repealed by the Progressive Conservative government and expired on Dec. 31, 2021.
CTV News Toronto has reached out to the Attorney General’s Office for comment on what, if anything, is set to replace CICB.
A spokesperson for Tribunals Ontario told CTV News Toronto that crime victims can contact the Victim Quick Response Program+, which “provides short-term financial support toward essential expenses for victims, their immediate family members and witnesses in the immediate aftermath of a violent crime.”
The supports available, according to the program’s website, include “practical assistance expenses,” as well as expenses related to emergency home safety, travel to medical treatments and crime scene clean-up.
One other person was struck by a bullet outside of the convention centre on Dec. 19. Police said the second victim was a male occupant of a vehicle who was also involved in a collision down the street.
At the time, police said they were treating the incident as a targeted incident; however they have not said who the target of the shooting was.
In an email earlier this week, investigators said there was no further information to release. No suspect information has been provided.
Ferri told CTV News Toronto she believes she was an innocent bystander who was just “trying to leave a party because there was a fight inside and didn't want to be a part of it.”
“I’ve just been through the most traumatic experience in life,” she said. “And I'm lucky to be alive.”
Ferri's sister started a GoFundMe campaign to help cover some of the costs of her recovery.