It’s a frightening prospect: the Danforth shooting could have been much worse.
Police sources tell the Toronto Sun that Faisal Hussain was carrying seven magazines of ammunition, each containing up to 15 bullets, when he stalked the Danforth on Sunday night firing at groups of people with a .40 caliber Smith and Wesson handgun.
Hussain killed two people and injured 13 others before exchanging gunfire with police on Bowden Street, just south of Danforth. He was found dead shortly after on the Danforth.
Sources also believe he had training because he was able to reload the gun while on the move.
The CBC is reporting that Hussain killed himself after the gun fight with police, which is being investigated by the province’s Special Investigation’s Unit.
A police source also told the CBC that a subsequent search of Hussain’s Thorncliffe Park apartment uncovered an assault rifle along with ammunition and a high-capacity magazine.
There is no evidence Hussain had a criminal record and, according to Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, he was not on a federal watch list.
680 NEWS reported Hussain was known to police for his “online activity,” but the type of activity that drew the attention of authorities hasn’t been revealed.
The Islamic State Group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but Toronto police say there’s no evidence at this point that the shooting was terror-related.
“At this stage, we have no evidence to support these claims,” Toronto police said in a statement. “Accurate information about this investigation will only be released by the Toronto Police Service. We will continue to explore every investigative avenue…”
‘Mental health challenges’
Hussain lived with his parents and attended both Marc Garneau Collegiate Institute and Victoria Park Collegiate Institute during his high school years.
According to The Toronto Star, a former teacher at Victoria Park Collegiate recalled Hussain once saying that it would be “cool to kill someone.”
A former head of special education also told The Star that Hussain often spoke about hearing voices in his head and that police were once called when he began cutting his face with the blade from a pencil sharpener.
Despite those disturbing reports, neighbours in the Thorncliffe Park area described him to CityNews as polite, quiet and reserved.
Fiaz Khan, who lives in the same complex as the family, said Hussain would say “hello” but not much else and he often wore a cap and black clothes.
“I never saw that he was violent or hyper,” Khan said. “His parents are beautiful. I don’t know what happened to this guy.”
Khan said the family had been through several hardships over the years and that Hussain’s father was racked with stress.
“Sometimes the father was crying,” he said. “His son is in the hospital; he’s in a coma. And the one daughter, she died (in a car accident).”
On Monday, Hussain’s parents issued a statement saying Faisal suffered from “severe mental health challenges” and has dealt with psychosis and depression his entire life.
“Medications and therapy were unable to treat him,” they said. “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.”
Dr. David Goldbloom, senior medical advisor at CAMH, said people suffering from psychosis rarely commit violent acts.
“For most people who experience psychosis, it is not accompanied by violent behaviour,” he said. “People with psychosis are at greater risk of being the victims of violence then of perpetrating violence.
“Occasionally, and tragically, some people with psychotic illness do act out in a very violent way.”