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Toronto shooter likely untrained but experienced, say tactical experts

Suspected gunman captured on camera shooting into Greektown restaurants
WARNING: Video contains disturbing content. Discretion advised. Alarming video captured Sunday night from Toronto's Greektown shows a the suspected gunman involved in a deadly mass shooting open firing on a restaurant, killing at least two people and injuring several others.

The Toronto gunman who opened fire, killed at least two people and left 13 others injured on Danforth Avenue Sunday night was likely an untrained shooter when he carried out the attack.

That’s according to tactical experts who analyzed a short social media video that showed an gunman raising a gun and shots being fired.

But it’s also likely that he had some experience with a gun, said one expert.

WATCH: Toronto shooter identified as Faisal Hussain

Toronto shooter identified as local man Faisal Hussain
Toronto shooter identified as local man Faisal Hussain

The shooter has been identified as 29-year-old Faisal Hussain, a Toronto man suffered from “severe mental health challenges,” according to his family.

A seconds-long video of the shooting showed an individual in a hat, dark jacket, dark pants and carrying a shoulder bag walking down a sidewalk, then turning and pointing a firearm in the direction of a building.

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Shots could be heard as the video ended.

READ MORE: Toronto shooting video shows alleged Danforth Avenue shooter pulling gun and shots heard

The video showed the gunman bringing the gun in a “round way” from his hip and firing.

That’s “not very professional,” said Nick Lebouthillier, who was deployed as a Canadian Forces police mentor and firearms instructor to the Afghan National Police in Kandahar in 2010.

He now runs Tactical Beaver, a lifestyle brand aimed at veterans.

“He is bringing his hands together but he does it more so out in front of him, whereas a professional would do it closer to the chest and they would present quickly and effectively on target,” he told Global News.

Police are seen near the scene of a mass shooting in Toronto, July 22, 2018.
Police are seen near the scene of a mass shooting in Toronto, July 22, 2018. Reuters/Chris Helgren

The gunman was also drawing and turning on one foot, Lebouthillier noted.

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“Any trained operator would have their chest, body facing the target, stable so they would have a safe firing stance,” he said.

“He was obviously rushing, he was obviously nervous and he just wanted to get those rounds off.”

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The shooter also didn’t fire very fast, Lebouthillier noted.

He said the gunman didn’t have proper training to maintain sight alignment and do it accurately, so he was “taking his time” when he fired.

That he was carrying a shoulder bag when he carried out the attack also suggested a lack of training, he added.

“Most people would be carrying a backpack with two straps or nothing at all,” he said.

READ MORE: Toronto gunman had ‘severe mental health challenges,’ according to family

The shooter may not have been trained.

But the gunman’s moves in the video suggested some knowledge of how to handle a handgun, said Steve Day, the ex-commander of Joint Task Force 2 (JTF2), the elite Canadian special operations force that deployed in Afghanistan.

“You can tell by the way he’s bringing it up, positioning it, turning in to engage,” Day told Global News.

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“I wouldn’t suggest he’s had any training, you can get some of this just by looking at videos online and all that, but I would suggest he was somewhat prepared for what he was going to do.”

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Day noted that the shooter moved with the gun pointed in a specific direction and his head was looking where he was shooting.

“What I’m suggesting is he studied something somewhere,” he said.

“If you just pick up a pen or a stapler and pretend you’re holding a gun, and then put both those hands on that stapler and put it out of front of you and try to walk, it is not a natural movement.”

READ MORE: Map — where Toronto’s 2018 gun homicides happened

Day also noted that that the shooter “certainly” fired more than one magazine — and that means the gunman likely knew how to properly reload a magazine.

“Magazine changes on a pistol in a high stress environment are not necessarily an easy task,” he said.

“It requires fine motor skills.”

Police patrolled Danforth and Logan Avenues after the mass shooting in the area Sunday night.
Police patrolled Danforth and Logan Avenues after the mass shooting in the area Sunday night. Global News

The gunman could be seen moving toward the building in a kind of zigzag pattern just before the shots were heard in the video,

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That movement likely represented a surge of adrenaline before he turned on the building, said Robert Furlong, a former record-holding Canadian sniper who took out a Taliban fighter from over two kilometres away in 2002.

“It’s like an animal,” he told Global News.

“If you have an animal that runs into an area with a bunch of prey, it becomes easier to kill.”

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WATCH: How the Danforth mass shooting unfolded

How the Danforth mass shooting unfolded
How the Danforth mass shooting unfolded

One’s cognitive abilities can actually break down when enough adrenaline is pulsing through them, Day added.

“His heart rate’s probably banging away as he’s walking down the street and that causes what’s known as cognitive impairment,” he said.

“Once your heart rate gets north of 150 beats per second, your cognitive ability starts to degrade.”

‘Planning on dying’

Whatever the shooter’s motive, it’s likely that he went in expecting that he would not come out, the tactical experts said.

“He obviously knew law enforcement would be on the scene in a matter of moments, which they were,” Furlong said.

“He was probably fully aware that this was how it was going to end.”

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While it’s possible that the shooter thought he was going to come out of the situation alive, Lebouthillier said, he explained it’s not likely.

“For him to engage that many people for that long, I think he was planning on dying,” he said.

As far as a motive goes, Day said the shooter likely looked upon his victims as “targets of opportunity” — meaning that as soon as a target presented itself, he took it.

“If you notice in the video, there’s no one around him,” he said.

“He’s able to withdraw the side arm from wherever he has it. There’s nothing between him and what he’s looking to engage.”

Day also thinks it’s likely the gunman went in believing he would die — and that’s common in mass casualty incidents such as this as well as the van attack that killed 10 people at Yonge and Finch Streets in North York in April, he said.

“These are by and large folks that have mental health challenges,” Day said.

“As part of that, they probably don’t plan to survive.”

READ MORE: Toronto gunman had ‘severe mental health challenges,’ according to family