The family of a gunman who opened fire on a busy avenue in downtown Toronto on Sunday, killing two people and injuring 13 others, said he suffered from psychosis and depression.
The suspect was identified by the authorities as Faisal Hussain, a 29-year-old Toronto resident. He was found dead shortly after the shooting.
A 10-year-old girl and an 18-year-old woman, who has been named as Reese Fallon, were killed and 13 other people were wounded by the gunman.
In a statement, Hussain’s family expressed their condolences to those suffering on account of “our son’s horrific actions,” adding that they were “utterly devastated” by what he done.
They said their son tried medications and therapy but they had not helped and that 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 have so far declined to speculate on a motive for the attack.
“We do not know why this happened,” Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders told reporters on Monday, adding that he would not speculate about the gunman’s motive. “It’s way too early to rule out anything.”
The attacked happened on Danforth Avenue in Toronto’s east end, which has many popular restaurants, cafes and shops. The area was teeming with people, Canada’s Globe And Mail newspaper reports.
Local politician Nathaniel Erskine-Smith confirmed the 18-year-old victim was Fallon, a recent high school graduate who planned to study nursing.
“The family is devastated,” Erskine-Smith said in a statement, adding that family members had asked for privacy while they mourn a young woman who was “smart, passionate and full of energy.”
The name of the other victim has not yet been released.
Reports of gunfire in the city’s Greektown neighbourhood began at 10pm local time and witnesses said they heard 25 gunshots.
John Tulloch said he and his brother had just gotten out of their car on Danforth when he heard about 20 to 30 gunshots, HuffPost Canada reported.
“We just ran. We saw people starting to run so we just ran,” he said.
A server at Caffe Demetre told CP24 she was serving a family near the front of the restaurant when the gunman shot through the patio doors.
The woman identified as Diane said she ran to the back and into the basement. When it was safe for her to return, she saw the girl from the family she was serving lying on the ground.
“Her mom was crying,” Diane said.
An army of police, paramedics and other first responders descended on the scene, while a crowd of area residents, some in their pyjamas, emerged from their homes to see what was going on. The Danforth is also known as Greektown, because an influx of Greek immigrants settled in the area after the First World War.
“It’s the street where families come. They were all out tonight, walking, having their dinner,” said Toronto Coun. Paula Fletcher, whose ward includes part of the Danforth, on CP24.
“I live seconds away from the where the shooting took place and that just goes to say that you’re really never safe,” Suzanne Kelso told HuffPost Canada in an email. “Neighbours are scared and terrified.”
She said she was in the car when she heard a “pop sound” but it didn’t register until she saw police arrive with large firearms.
The premier of the province of Ontario, Doug Ford, tweeted a message of support to the victims of the attack and thanked emergency services.
Mayor Of Toronto John Tory called the attack “a despicable act”.
“On behalf of all Toronto residents, I am outraged that someone has unleashed such a terrible attack on our city and people innocently enjoying a Sunday evening,” he said in a tweet.
“While our city will always be resilient in the face of such attacks, it does not mean such a cowardly act committed against our residents is any less painful – this is an attack against innocent families and our entire city.”
Tory said he had “total confidence” in the ability of police to determine what happened and asked people “not to draw any conclusions” until more information is available.
In a press conference shortly after the shooting, John Tory told reporters that the shooting was “evidence of a gun problem” in Toronto.
“Guns are too readily available to too many people,” he said.
Toronto is grappling with a sharp rise in gun violence this year. Deaths from gun violence in the city jumped 53 per cent to 26 so far in 2018 from the same period last year, police data last week showed, with the number of shootings rising 13 per cent.
Toronto deployed about 200 police officers from 20 July in response to the recent spate in shootings, which city officials have blamed on gang violence.