Family says suspect in Toronto shooting had mental problems

By AFP

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Faisal Hussain

(AP) — A man whose family said he suffered from psychosis and depression fired a handgun into restaurants and cafes in a lively Toronto neighbourhood, killing a 10-year-old girl and an 18-year-old woman and wounding 13 others in an attack that has shaken the confidence of many in the normally safe city.

Authorities on Monday evening identified the suspect as Faisal Hussain, 29, of Toronto, who died in an exchange of gunfire with police. It was not immediately clear whether he killed himself or was killed by police.

The mass shooting in Toronto’s Greektown district Sunday night came just three months after a van struck and killed 10 people in an apparent attack directed at women.

A statement from the family of Hussain said their son had severe mental health challenges and struggled with psychosis and depression. They said medications did not help him and the interventions of professionals were unsuccessful.

“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,” the Hussain family said.

“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 Chief Mark Saunders earlier said he would not speculate on a motive but did not rule out terrorism.

“It’s almost inconceivable that these things can happen,” said Mayor John Tory. “We were so used to living in a city where these things didn’t happen and as we saw them going on in the world around us (we) thought they couldn’t happen here.”

“This is an attack against innocent families and our entire city.”

The slain 18-year-old was identified as Reese Fallon, a recent high school graduate who volunteered for Canada’s Liberal party and was due to attend McMaster University in the fall. Her family said in a statement they were devastated.

“She was … smart, passionate and full of energy. It is a huge loss,” said Canadian Member of Parliament Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, who knew Fallon.

Flags at Toronto City Hall as well as at Fallon’s former high school, Malvern CI, were lowered to half-staff.

The 13 wounded ranged in age from 10 to 59, and suffered injuries ranging from serious to minor, Saunders said. He did not name the victims, which included eight women and girls, and seven men.

Dr Najma Ahmed of St Michael’s Hospital said five patients had been admitted in serious or critical condition and that three of the five underwent immediate lifesaving operations.

A video taken by a witness showed a man dressed all in black walking quickly down a sidewalk and firing three shots into at least one shop or restaurant in Toronto’s Greektown, a residential area crowded with Greek restaurants and cafes.

Witnesses heard many shots and described the suspect walking past restaurants and cafes and patios on both sides of the street and firing into them.

At the corner of Danforth and Logan, where some of the shots were fired, about 50 people milled about on a small square Monday evening, talking in several languages. They expressed shock at a shooting in such a neighbourhood, which is graced with parks, pretty two-story brick homes and street cafes.

Some hugged, others wept. Others were sombre, wondering both why someone would want to hurt people in their neighbourhood — and how he obtained a gun in a country with far stricter gun laws than in the neighbouring US.

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