No motive yet for Toronto shooting
Daesh claimed responsibility Wednesday for the Toronto shooting spree that left three dead, including the gunman, and wounded 13.
But no evidence was provided by the terrorist group and Canadian experts suspected Daesh is simply trying to take advantage of the crime.
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said authorities have found no evidence of a terrorist connection or security threat linked to the shooting.
“As far as we’re aware at this stage based on the state of the investigation, which by the way is led by the Toronto Police Service, there is no connection between that individual [shooter Faisal Hussain] and national security,” Goodale told reporters Tuesday.
On Wednesday, a spokesperson for the public safety minister’s office, said: “We have nothing to add to our previous statement.”
On July 22 at about 10 p.m., Toronto resident Faisal Hussain walked down a busy street in the popular Danforth area of Toronto called Greektown, and randomly fired his handgun into restaurants, shops and crowds of people.
Two females, an 18-year-old and a 10-year-old, were killed and after exchanging gunfire with police, the shooter also died, but it is unclear if he was shot by police or fell victim to a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Nine of the 13 victims remained in hospital as of Tuesday, some in critical but stable condition.
Hussain’s family said in a statement that their son had been afflicted with “severe mental health challenges” including psychosis and depression most of his life.
Treatment, including counseling and medication, had not helped, the family said, but they had no indication that Hussain posed a danger to others.
“We are utterly devastated by the incomprehensible news that our son was responsible for the senseless violence and loss of life that took place on the Danforth,” the statement said.
A police source told several media outlets that Hussain had been apprehended twice by police for mental health problems, but the interventions were when the 29-year-old was under age 18.
In one instance, school officials contacted police after Hussain made comments about “liking death” and comparing himself to “The Joker”, a criminally unstable character in the Batman movies and comics.
Canada’s Mental Health Act includes a provision that allows police to assess a person as to whether they pose an immediate danger to themselves or the public. But it was determined Hussain was not a threat and he had no criminal record, said a Toronto police spokesperson.
Hussain lived with his parents in an apartment and a police search of the premises turned up a firearm. Investigators also seized a computer.
Police are trying to determine a motive and how the killer obtained the murder weapon, a semi-automatic handgun that is illegal in Canada.
The Thorncliffe area where Hussain lived is notorious for gang activity and a source told CBC News that Hussain might have gotten the gun through an older brother who allegedly has ties to a gang. The brother is in a coma in hospital as the result of an accident.
The gun has been traced to the United States and authorities there are attempting to pin down where the weapon specifically originated.
Toronto, known as one of the world’s safest cities, has seen a spike in shootings this year, with guns responsible for 29 deaths, compared to 17 during the same period last year. Tuesday night, Toronto council voted 41-4 to urge the federal government to ban the sale of handguns in the city.
Meanwhile, in the wake of the shooting, a vigil will be held on Danforth on Wednesday night.
Hussain is a Muslim, and DawaNet, a Toronto Muslim charitable association, and Islamic Relief Canada have teamed up with dozens of other Muslim organizations to decry the shootings and fundraise for the victims.