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Danforth shooter's mental health cited in police report
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Faisal Hussain had been involved in multiple troubling incidents in high school that were reported to authorities
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By MOLLY HAYES, TU THANH HA
  
  

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Saturday, June 22, 2019 – Page A8

In his final year of high school, Faisal Hussain told his teacher he had a surprise for the last day of classes. When the young man started to describe a violent attack, the concerned teacher asked if he was going to hurt people.

"I can't tell you," he replied.

The exchange detailed in a report from police was one of many troubling incidents that peppered the young man's student record, long before he opened fire on Toronto's Danforth Avenue last summer.

The Toronto police report released on Friday sheds light on Mr. Hussain's history of mentalhealth struggles and his fascination with violence - but does not explain what spurred the 29-yearold to kill two young women and injure 13 others on July 22, 2018.

"We may never know the answer to why," Chief Mark Saunders said at a news conference on Friday.

There is no evidence Mr. Hussain was affiliated with any radical, terrorist or hate group, the police report said. He did not have a criminal record - although his school record showed signs of trouble from a young age; including references to disruptive behaviour and fascination with violence as far back as 1998 - and repeated attempts by teachers and social workers to get him help.

Over a decade, he was referred to the Toronto District School Board's social-work department six times. Police took him to hospital three times.

As a student, he drew violent pictures, including one of a man beheading a woman. He admitted torturing animals. He spoke admiringly of the perpetrators of the 1999 Columbine High School Massacre and was deemed to be a medium-to-high risk for violence.

In 2010, the year he graduated at 21, he was diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder.

His mental-health issues worsened in his early 20s, the report said.

In July, 2018, Mr. Hussain had two part-time jobs, stocking shelves and refrigerators at Shopper's Drug Mart and Loblaws. His co-workers considered him a friendly person, although he was routinely late and needed to be coached to do menial tasks.

He lived with his parents in a two-bedroom apartment.

On the evening of July 22, 2018, Mr. Hussain's twin brother came for a visit, the report said. He spoke with Mr. Hussain about his future and nagged him about finding a wife. His family believes this conversation upset him, and around 9:10 p.m., he left to go for a walk.

At 9:56 p.m., he reached the Alexander the Great Parkette at Danforth and Logan Avenues, which was bustling with people that Sunday night. There, Mr.Hussain began shooting into the crowd. He continued west along Danforth, firing at pedestrians and businesses along the busy Greektown strip.

In a matter of minutes, 18-yearold Reese Fallon and 10-year-old Julianna Kozis were killed. Another 13 people were injured. After an exchange of gunfire with police, Mr. Hussain shot himself in the head.

Police said in the report they don't know where Mr. Hussain got the gun he used that night.

The Smith & Wesson M&P 40 was stolen, along with many others, from a Saskatchewan gun shop in 2016, police confirmed on Friday in the news conference - but it's unclear how or when Mr. Hussain got it.

The report said he had never applied for, nor been granted, a firearms licence. Credit-card information shows he bought seven Smith & Wesson .40-calibre magazines (which do not require permits) that April.

When they searched his home, police found an empty gun box, AK-47 magazines loaded with bullets and hundreds of rounds of loose and boxed ammunition in a variety of calibres.

Glock, Ruger and Winchester magazines, a soft rifle case and a trigger guard were also seized, along with DVDs about conspiracy theories surrounding the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. They also found drugs, which were packaged in a way that suggested to police they were not for personal use.

Searches of cellphones and laptops seized from the home provided a glimpse into Mr. Hussain's interests before the killing.

His search history included articles about and photos of Elliot Rodger, who killed three men and three women in the United States in 2014 as "retribution" against the women who rejected him and "all you men for living a better life than me."

Mr. Hussain had also searched articles about Alek Minassian, the suspect in a van attack on Toronto's Yonge Street in which 10 people were killed and many more injured mere months before the Danforth shooting.

Documents saved to Mr. Hussain's phone included academic articles on mental health and violent crimes. There were more than six documents related to Without Conscience, a book about psychopaths, a copy of Mein Kampf and a copy of "the Elliot Rodger story." He had also had books about male authority and picking up women.

Police also found videos of an injured bird, as well as videos of Mr. Minassian playing with a dead bird, with sound effects added. He had also recorded himself reading lines spoken by the Joker in a Batman movie, revolving around plans for killing large groups of people.

Chief Saunders said it is clear Mr. Hussain's mental health played a role in the attack.

The report said that two days before the shooting, he was arrested for stealing ice cream at a grocery store. He was released without charges.

Ken Price, whose daughter was one of the shooting victims, thanked the Toronto police for their efforts, but said the investigation also raised questions. For one, how did Mr. Hussain get the gun?

He also noted Mr. Hussain's history of anti-social behaviour.

"He seemed to fall through the cracks ... could more have been done?" Investigators also said there is no evidence the attack could have been predicted.

"I can tell you this about Mr.

Hussain: The day in question, through all the people we spoke to - the people he works with, the family - was no different from any other day," homicide detective Sergeant Terry Browne told reporters on Friday.

"There was nothing ... that suggests that he was in crisis on that day. When he left his home that day, for the last time, that fateful time, there's nothing that we've learned to suggest that anyone could have foreseen that this was going to happen."

Associated Graphic

Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders speaks during a news conference on Friday after detailing the results of an investigation into the Danforth Avenue shooting that occurred on July 22, 2018.

J.P. MOCZULSKI/THE GLOBE AND MAIL


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