'May never know why' Danforth shooter carried out attack, police say
Published Friday, June 21, 2019 10:39AM EDT Last Updated Friday, June 21, 2019 9:25PM EDT
Police Chief Mark Saunders says the victims and families of those killed and wounded in a mass shooting on the Danforth last summer “may never know the answer to why” 29-year-old Faisal Hussain decided to carry out the attack.
On Friday afternoon, Saunders released the service’s findings of their probe into the deadly shooting and said despite a lengthy investigation into the shooter’s background, police have not been able to come up with a clear motive.
On the night of July 22, 10-year-old Juliana Kozis and 18-year-old Reese Fallon were killed and more than a dozen others were wounded after a gunman opened fire at people sitting in restaurants and walking along Danforth Avenue in the heart of Greektown.
After a short exchange of gunfire with two responding officers, Hussain was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound on side street near Logan and Danforth avenues.
Police said they have determined that Hussain acted alone and was not associated with any radical ideologies, hate groups, or terrorist organizations.
The investigation revealed that Hussain had an “extensive history of mental health issues” which was first documented in 1998.
Information provided to police by the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) found that Hussain was referred to mental health professionals multiple times after cutting himself in class and showing an ”outward expression of violent thoughts.”
He was referred to the TDSB's social work department six times between 2001 and 2010 after teachers and staff raised concerns about his mental health and the safety of students and staff.
Hussain, who had no criminal record, was apprehended by Toronto police under the Mental Health Act three times between May 2010 and February 2012.
Investigators said that in June 2010, Hussain was brought to a hospital by police after he had taken a steak knife from a teacher, claimed he was the Joker, and refused to give the knife back. He was subsequently diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder.
In his last interaction with police, which occurred just two days before the shooting, Hussain was arrested after attempting to steal ice cream from a Food Basics store. He was released without charge.
Hussain also reportedly struggled with substance abuse issues, including alcohol, marijuana, and hydrocodone, but police said Hussain claimed in 2014 that he was no longer afflicted with any addictions.
Heroin, MDA, and Phenacetin was found during a search of Hussain’s bedroom but police said the quantity and packaging suggest the drugs were not for personal use.
The firearm seized from the area where Hussain’s body was found was a Smith and Wesson M & P .40, which police said was lawfully exported to Toronto in 2013. The firearm was reported stolen in 2016 from a gun store in Saskatchewan and it is not known how Hussain came into possession of the gun.
During their investigation, police discovered that on April 12, 2018, Hussain went to a Toronto area sports and outdoor store and bought seven Smith & Wesson, .40-calibre magazines, which do not require a permit to purchase.
Hussain never applied or was granted a firearms licence.
Two fully loaded 9mm handgun magazines, two loaded 7.62mm magazines for an AK-47 assault rifle, and two drum-style extended capacity magazines full of ammunition were also found in Hussain’s bedroom.
Book about Elliot Rodger found on Hussain’s phone
On the day of the shooting, police said Hussain's family reported having a conversation with him about his future and that he should “find a wife.” This conversation, according to his family, made Hussain upset.
Hussain’s cellphone, which was seized by police, contained a book from ManhoodAcademy.com called “The Principles that Govern Social Interaction,” which highlights how to use male authority in relationships with women. Another book in his possession was titled “The Tao of Badness,” which explains how to “be a complete badass and pick up women.”
His phone also contained academic articles on psychopathy, personality disorders, violent crimes, homicidal ideation, effects of physical attractiveness on perceptions of mental illness, and the intimate relationships of psychopaths.
A copy of Mein Kampf and more than six documents that related to “Without Conscience,” a book about psychopaths, were found on his phone.
Police said in Hussain’s possession was a copy of a book on Elliot Rodger, a 22-year-old self-described “incel” who hated women and killed six students in Isla Vista, California in 2014.
Images of Elliot Rodger and a news story about Alek Minassian, the man accused in the Yonge Street van attack, were also found on his device.
Videos found on Hussain’s phone showed him playing with a dead bird and police said the video had sound effects added.
Officers also discovered a number of DVDs of conspiracy theory documentaries in Hussain’s bedroom, including films that claim that 9/11 was perpetrated by the U.S. government and a film that suggested the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut was a hoax.
'I don’t hold on to strong feelings of anger,' victim says
At Friday's news conference, Saunders said releasing this type of detailed information in a case is "unprecedented" for the Toronto Police Service.
"Our investigative findings may help to provide some closure to the families and the victims by answering some of the questions (but) it does not provide all of the answers as to why this occurred," he said. "We may never know the answer to why."
Danielle Kane, a nursing student who was left paralyzed when a bullet shattered part of her spine during the shooting rampage last summer, said she feels that the police have sufficiently addressed the questions she had about the gunman.
“The fact that he had such an extensive mental health history kind of speaks to why someone might do this,” she said.
“I think it is a major call to action for us to finally address the major gaps that there are in the mental health system right now because it is kind of a revolving door situation for a lot patients and I think this is a sign that we can’t ignore this problem anymore.”
Kane said the shooter might have been surprised to learn that she herself suffered from depression in the past.
“I can understand to an extent how those thoughts can lead to thoughts of self-harm and perhaps even thoughts of hurting others,” she said. “It is a terrible condition to live with and I think there are a lot of people who need help and he was clearly one of them.”
She added that she has tried to let go of any anger she feels toward the gunman.
“I definitely have those nights when I’m in an excruciating amount of pain and I am cursing that man but I mean at the end of the day, I don’t hold on to strong feelings of anger towards him because I feel like we’ve failed him as much as he was unable to overcome his own issues,” Kane said.
“I think we need to come together as a community and support those with mental health (issues) and prevent situations like this from happening in the future.”