Posted on July 24, 2018

Toronto Gunman Is Identified as Faisal Hussain

Hannah Parry and Hannah Moore, Daily Mail, July 23, 2018

The Toronto shooter who killed two including a girl, 10, and left 12 more wounded has been named as Faisal Hussain.

A police watchdog identified Hussain, 29, of Toronto, as being behind the mass shooting in the bustling area of Greektown on Danforth on Sunday.

The Special Investigations Unit say an immediate family member confirmed the identity of Hussain who was founded dead after a shootout with police, CTV reported. A post-mortem is scheduled for Tuesday.

Meanwhile, his first victim has been identified as Reese Fallon, 18.

The suspect’s family have since revealed their son had been battling mental health issues as they came forward to condemn the shooting as ‘senseless violence’.

In a letter to the press, the family said: ‘Our son had severe mental health challenges, struggling with psychosis and depression his entire life.’

They added that he had tried numerous medications and therapy treatments but nothing had helped.

‘While we did our best to seek help for him throughout his life of struggle and pain, we could never imagine that this would be his devastating and destructive end,’ they continued.

The family, who have not been named, say they want to share their deep condolences to the families of those affected by Hussain’s ‘horrific actions.’

‘Our hearts are in pieces for the victims and for our city as we all come to grips with this terrible tragedy. We will mourn those who were lost for the rest of our lives.’

Police said they were still investigating a possible motive behind the shooting.

Meanwhile, his first victim has been identified as Reese Fallon, 18.

Police and forensics teams were seen going in and out of the seventh floor apartment Hussain shared with his parents on Thorncliffe Park Drive.

Neighbours and friends told CP24 Monday that they were stunned that Hussain could be the shooter.

They described an ‘upbeat and happy’ individual who was ‘polite, respectful, humble, quiet, kept to himself.’

Family friend Aamir Sukhera said he met the suspect by mentoring him at a community program.

‘He seemed fine,’ they said. ‘Every time he saw you he’d smile, greet you.

‘I felt special because he was open with me. I guess he trusted me,’ Sukhera said. ‘When I heard this is what happened, I can’t put two and two together. I can’t believe it’s him.’

Neighbor Ahsley Robinson added that Hussain was always friendly when he passed by as she walked her dog.

‘He was just an acquaintance. Seeing the video of him with the gun walking was just heartbreaking. It made me tear up a bit. I didn’t ‘know’ know him, but it’s still horrible to see that.’

Hussain’s attack on Sunday left two dead and 12 injured. The family of a 10-year-old girl from the Greater Toronto Area, has not yet been identified by request of her family.

His other victim, Reese, had recently graduated high school and was going to study nursing when she was gunned down by Hussain who began shooting randomly at pedestrians and into restaurants in the popular area at about 10pm.

Her local MP, Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, identified the woman as one of two people killed by the gunman.

Erskine-Smith toldCityNews the teenager had been out with two friends in Danforth for a birthday when she was killed. Her friends were also shot and are being treated in hospital.

He said Reese’s family ‘hasn’t processed this yet’. ‘They’re devastated, as any parent would be,’ he said.

A woman who identified herself as Reese’s cousin said she was ‘heartbroken’ at the news.

‘My beautiful cousin. My heart hurts seeing this everywhere,’ she wrote.

‘Seeing my friends mark themselves as safe on Facebook. But Reese can’t mark herself safe. I’m so devastated for her and her family. I’m in f***ing shock.’

Two of the injured victims in hospital are believed to be Reese’s friends.

A vigil is being held on Monday for the victims at a church on Danforth, and police say they are increasing officer presence on the Danforth in the wake of the attack.

A chalkboard memorial was set up this morning, near Logan and Danforth avenues, for community members to leave messages of hope and condolence as well as flowers and tributes.

‘Stay strong Toronto,’ ‘Thinking of everyone on this sad day’ and ‘We must stick together and make this city a safer place’ some of the messages read.

Police Chief Mark Saunders said he was still looking into the motive behind the attack.

‘I’m keeping everything open. Looking at every single possible motive for this; when you have this many people struck by gunfire, it’s a grave concern,’ he said.

‘I certainly want to find out exactly what it is, so I am not closing any doors or any chapters on this. I certainly don’t want to speculate… I don’t know why he did what he did, and he won’t be able to tell us because he is deceased.’

He did not rule out whether terrorism or gang violence was involved.

The Special Investigations Unit said Monday that it appears that Hussain was walking along the street on Danforth Avenue, near Logan Avenue, when he pulled out a handgun and began shooting. As he passed by a busy restaurant, witnesses say he took aim at the patrons inside, shooting through the glass front.

People were later seen lying on the ground along Danforth Avenue although it’s unclear whether they were injured or ducking from the gunfire.

The SIU said police caught up with Hussain on Bowden Street where a shootout took place. The suspect then fled, and officers later discovered him dead from a gunshot wound on Danforth Avenue.

Police wouldn’t confirm if they gunshot wound was from the police shootout or was self-inflicted.

Homicide Det.-Sgt. Terry Browne told reporters on Monday that it was all over very quickly.

‘I can’t get into the full detail but it was a moving scene so it started in a certain location and then it moved down the road,’ he said.

‘It was a very rapid and fluid incident that unfolded… very quickly.’

Saunders added that the remaining victims are aged 10-59, and their injuries range from minor to serious in nature, with homicide detective Sargent Terry Browne saying some may have ‘life-altering’ wounds.

The mass shooting began around 10pm near the intersection of Danforth and Chester Avenues in the popular Greektown neighborhood while the street was bustling with diners.

A cellphone video shot from a window overlook the street shows the gunman walk up to a restaurant window, pull out a handgun, and fire several shots through the glass.

Three gunshots were heard before the person filming ducked to safety and stopped recording.

The gunman shot 15 people and several reportedly suffered ‘significant injuries’.

Fallon died shortly after arriving in hospital, while the ten-year-old was rushed to Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children, in a critical condition where she ultimately died too.

Four more victims were taken to St. Michael’s Hospital and three others to Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center. Others were taken to local hospitals.

Chief Saunders confirmed the suspect was killed in ‘an exchange of gunfire’ with the police and pronounced dead at the scene.

He said police are still looking for a motive behind the shooting.

‘We’re living in a different world now. When you look at the global issues, when you look at motivations for doing these things, and you know that urban cities are much more vulnerable to these.’

Toronto Councillor Paula Fletcher told CP24 she’d been told the gunman was emotionally disturbed, as did Councillor Mary Fragedakis.

‘It’s not gang related. It looks like someone who is very disturbed,’ Fletcher said.

Mayor of Toronto John Tory also urged the public not to ‘draw any conclusions’ about the shooting, but to wait for police to conduct their investigation.

He added: ‘I just want to say to the families of those we lost tonight and to those… who were injured… I extend the deepest condolences.’

Tory also admitted Toronto has ‘a gun problem in that guns are too readily available to too many people’, and said: ‘It’s almost inconceivable that these things can happen’.

An unknown number of people were treated at the scene. A witness said multiple victims were injured on different blocks.

Mike McCormack, the president of the Toronto Police Association, told CBC officers were faced with a ‘terrible scene’, and that even veteran officers said they’d never seen anything like it.

‘It’s just a terrible scene. Families enjoying themselves on the Danforth, supposed to be in a very safe area, and this happens,’ he said. ‘It’s absolutely devastating.’

A witness at the scene, who did not want to be named, told she’d seen the shooter, in a black hoodie, black baseball cap and black top, shooting and breaking the glass at a storefront. She described the terrifying moment she heard ‘at least 8 shots’ ring out in the typically quiet and family friendly neighborhood.’

‘I was in a car and heard loud gun shots which I at first thought was a car back firing, but then turned around and saw him shooting into a store from the sidewalk,’ she told us.

‘The glass was broken and he was shooting directly into the store, I heard at least 8 shots if not more.

‘I yelled at my friend to drive and we got out of there as fast as we could. As we drove down the street we saw everyone coming out of stores to see what was going on.’

John Tulloch said he and his brother had exited their car, parked on Danforth, when they heard dozens of gunshots.

‘We just ran. We saw people starting to run so we just ran,’ he told The Canadian Press.

Witnesses also described seeing several people on the ground inside Mezes Restaurant, although it was unclear if they were hiding or injured.

Andrew Mantzios told the Globe and Mail he heard gunshots about 10pm and saw ‘people falling all over the place’, while he was enjoying a coffee with friends near Danforth and Logan Avenues.

Mantzios said when he turned around he saw the gunman, who was dressed in black and had a ‘horrible expression on his face’ and was pointing his gun and firing into a crowd of people waiting to cross the street.

He said he heard a person yell ‘get down’ before watching a woman try to run and fall instead.

‘[The gunman] turned around and shot her point blank, two or three times,’ he said.

A woman named Diana told CP24 said she had been working at Demetres café serving the family of the nine-year-old girl who was shot, when she saw a gunman aim at the restaurant and fire about three shots through the patio doors.

Jody Steinhauer told CBC News she was with her family at Christina’s restaurant on the Danforth when she heard a blast of gunfire, which she initially mistook for firecrackers.

Suddenly, she and the other customers were told to run to the back of the restaurant.

‘We started to hear people scream out front,’ Steinhauer said.

The area was closed off to the public on Monday, and police say it could be ‘some time’ before it is reopened. Officers loaded people at the scene onto several city buses to take them to local police divisions, and have asked anyone with information, videos or photos to come forward.

Video taken on Monday and shared by local Jamie Tracey showed police combing the streets in slow-moving lines for evidence.

Police say it’s too early to say if the shooting was gang or terror related. Gun crime appears to have spiked in the area, with official statistics reporting 220 shootings and 27 gun deaths from January 1 to July 14, and 196 shootings causing 17 deaths for the whole of 2017.

City officials have blamed the spike on gang violence, and Toronto has deployed 200 police officers since July 20 to try and help combat the increase in crime.

The mass shooting comes after a driver of a van plowed into pedestrians on a Toronto sidewalk in late April, killing 10 people and injuring 14.

Authorities have not disclosed a motive for the attack, but they have said the arrested driver, Alek Minassian, posted a message on social media referencing a misogynistic online community before the attack.

It was the worst mass killing in Canada since December 6, 1989, when a man shot 14 women at the Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal before turning the gun on himself.