Library reopens after fatal shooting

A violent incident involving a crossbow occurred during the Main St. library's busy time

Main Street Library in Upper Beach is back to its usual hours after a horrific daytime murder inside the branch caused its closure for a few days earlier this month.

On Dec. 2, a man walked into the Main Street Library shortly after 4 p.m. and shot 52-year-old Si Cheng in the back with a crossbow.

Cheng died at the scene. His alleged killer is presumed to be his 24-year-old son, Zhou Fang, who has been arrested.

The murder happened during one of the busiest times of the day. Many patrons, including parents with their children, witnessed the crime unfold. While the library was immediately closed, it reopened only five days later, on Dec. 7.

“We’ve had a steady stream of patrons coming in. It’s hard to compare it to a usual Tuesday, but we have a good crowd of people,” Toronto Public Library spokesperson Anne Marie Aikins said in a phone interview from the Main Street Library only hours after it reopened. “It seems not quite like a normal day, but it’s quiet and busy.”

Counselling was made available at the library for both employees and patrons. Aikins said the workers had been coping very well so far.

“(The staff) are accessing our counselling services, and almost all of them have returned to work,” she said, adding extra staff was on site so workers could take more breaks if needed. “The library system is like one big family and they do take care of each other… They’re very dedicated public servants and they’re holding up very well.”

Aikins added that patrons have also been a great help, offering kind words and gestures alike.

“Our patrons have been so wonderful. They’re bringing flowers, cards, and chocolate – they’ve been very understanding,” she said.

“Most (patrons) are expressing how sorry they are about what happened and how bad they feel for the staff.”

Those gestures haven’t gone unnoticed.

“The staff have been very touched by the outpouring of support,” Aikins said. “I’ve been very pleased that people have felt safe enough to come back to the library because it is a safe space…we want them back and they are coming back.”

The Main Street library began normal operating hours on Dec. 8, and everything will be business as usual very quickly, Aikins said.

“(The murder) was one of those unforeseen, tragic events that could have happened anywhere, it just happened to happen at a library,” she said. “We are a resilient, strong organization and we will recover.”

About this article:

By: Shawn Star
Posted: Dec 14 2010 5:15 pm
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto