Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders issued a statement Wednesday morning, saying there’s no indication the Toronto shooter had any links to the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) group, just hours after the terrorist organization claimed responsibility for the rampage that left two people dead and 13 others injured.
“At this stage, we have no evidence to support these claims,” the chief said. “Accurate information about this investigation will only be released by the Toronto Police Service. We will continue to explore every investigative avenue including interviewing those who knew Mr. Hussain, reviewing his online activity, and looking into his experiences with mental health.”
But, misinformation about the shooter’s identity, motivation and religious views continue to spread throughout social media. Facebook users circulated images misidentifying a man posing high-powered rifle and another sitting at a desk. Social media users wrongly identified the individuals as Hussain.
“Here is the Danforth murderer. “Take a look at these and tell me you buy this sh—t they want you to believe?” reads the now-deleted Facebook posting.
The shooter is said to have suffered from “severe mental health challenges,” according to the Hussain family.
“We are at a terrible loss for words but we must speak out to express our deepest condolences to the families who are now suffering on account of our son’s horrific actions,” Hussain’s family said in a statement. “We are utterly devastated by the incomprehensible news that our son was responsible for the senseless violence and loss of life that took place on the Danforth.”
The family released a photo Hussain on Tuesday.
An image posted to the Canada First Facebook page, which as nearly 100,000 subscribers, shows a young, bearded man posing in front of what appears to be an ISIS flag. Facebook users also falsely claimed the man in the image was the Toronto shooter.
The man pictured is Talha Asmal, a 17-year-old from the U.K. who joined ISIS in 2015. He was reported to be Britain’s youngest suicide bomber, according to Reuters.
On Wednesday, ISIS claimed Hussain was a “soldier” for the group and was responding the calls to “target citizens of coalition countries.” The group also did not provide evidence suggesting Hussain was affiliated with the group.
News articles about a U.K. man with the same name as the Toronto shooter were also making the rounds on the internet.
In 2016, a 28-year-old Birmingham man with the same name as the Toronto shooter was sentenced to more than four years for several charges, including breach of restraining order, after subjecting a woman to “campaign of terror” following years of stalking.