Authorities have identified the gunman who they say was behind a mass shooting rampage in a Toronto neighborhood on Sunday that took the lives of a woman and a child, and left 13 others injured.
Police say Faisal Hussain, 29, of Toronto was behind the rampage that created chaos on a thoroughfare crowded with bars and restaurants. His family, in a statement given to reporters Monday evening, said Hussain suffered from “severe” mental illness, “struggling with psychosis and depression his entire life.”
Hussain died after a shootout with police. It’s unclear whether he was killed by officer’s gunfire or died by suicide.
Authorities did not say what motivated Hussain’s attack, but Canada’s Ministry of Public Safety, in a statement to The Globe and Mail in Toronto, seemed to tamper down the possibility of terrorism.
“At this time, there is no national security nexus to the investigation,” Hilary Peirce, a spokeswoman for the ministry, told the newspaper.
Police Chief Mark Saunders said an 18-year-old woman and a 10-year-old girl were killed in the shooting. The wounded victims ranged in age from 10 to 59, and some might have life-changing injuries, he said.
Hussain died within minutes of an exchange of gunfire with responding police officers, a few blocks from the carnage, Saunders said.
“We do not know why this happened yet,” Saunders said Monday. “This is still a new investigation.”
Hussain’s family described him as helpless, explaining interventions, professionals, medications and therapy were unsuccessful in helping to deal with his “mental health challenges.”
“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 family said. “Our hearts are in pieces for the victims and for our city as we all come to grips with this terrible tragedy.”
Saunders said the shooting, in the Greektown neighborhood, was not random. He asked the public for help through eyewitness information, videos and photos from the scene.
“I heard ‘pop, pop’ and then I turned because I thought it was fireworks … and then the mother of a friend of mine goes, ‘They’re shooting at us – run inside!’” Stavy Karnouskou, who was standing outside a bar with friends when the gunfire began, told the Toronto Star.
More: After Toronto van attack, Canadians mourn and ask simple question: Why?
More: 1 year after carnage on London bridge, survivors pay tribute
The attack in Canada’s largest city came three months after a 25-year-old man in a rented truck mowed down pedestrians along iconic Yonge Street, killing 10 and injuring 15.
“There is a newness to this in Toronto,” Saunders said of the violence. “There is no magic pill to take and say ‘All is well.’ ”
Mayor John Tory said the city has a gun problem. Although mass shootings are rare in Canada’s largest city, police recently have deployed dozens of additional officers to deal with a spike in gun violence in the city.
“Guns are too readily available to too many people,”” Tory said.
So far this year, gun-related deaths have accounted for 23 of Toronto’s 52 homicides in comparison to 16 fatal shootings in the first six months of 2017, according to the Toronto Globe and Mail.
With more than 2 million people, Toronto is among the biggest cities in North America. In Chicago, which has a slightly lower population, there have been 290 homicides, according to a database maintained by the Chicago Sun-Times.