The police investigation into the July 22 shooting on Toronto’s Danforth Avenue is looking at four questions into the tragedy, including whether someone may have supplied the gunman with the firearm and ammunition, court documents show.
An affidavit from Toronto police Det.-Sgt. Terry Browne, the lead investigator in the case, states that over 200 witnesses have been interviewed and police have a “substantial amount of video surveillance footage,” but that the probe was “active and ongoing.”
Police are investigating whether anyone aside from gunman Faisal Hussain was involved, why he did it, how he obtained the gun, and whether anyone had a role in providing the weapon and bullets.
“The issue of Faisal Hussain’s mental health has also been raised by his family in a news release and this will require time to investigate,” Browne said in the affidavit.
The Aug. 23 statement was filed in Ontario’s Superior Court in response to an application by several news outlets, including Global News, to unseal details of the search warrants in the case, formally called Information to Obtain a Search Warrant or ITOs.
Two of the warrants were for police to search the Thorncliffe Park apartment where Hussain lived with his family, and the third was for police to search one of its own property rooms in North York.
Browne wrote that the information contained in the warrants must not be released to ensure the integrity of the investigation is maintained.
“Investigators would be unable to assess the reliability and credibility of tips, witness interviews, or any other evidence that may be obtained by comparing them to independent evidence which has not been publicly disclosed,” Browne said in the court document.
Lawyers Paul Schabas and Kaley Pulfer were in court before Justice David Corbett on Friday, arguing that investigators were relying on “boilerplate” statements to keep the documents sealed.
“You justify a sealing order by showing it’s necessary,” Schabas said. “This is vast overreaching.”
Schabas argued that if police aren’t going to publicly disclose information in the warrant, the onus falls on investigators to offer specific details. He added that police are too often “routinely” granted sealing orders.
“This is abusive and it happens all the time,” Schabas told the court.
Justice Corbett said the court must balance two important public interests: on the one hand, freedom of the press and open courts; on the other, enabling the police to get to “the truth” about what happened. A decision related to the ITOs is expected as early as this week.
Thirteen others were wounded before Hussain turned the gun on himself. Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit is conducting the probe into the final moments of the Hussain’s life.
Six weeks after the tragedy, no explanation has yet emerged for the mass shooting.
Two investigations are underway, one by the Toronto Police Service and the other by the SIU, but little information has been officially released.
Police have said their investigation has not turned up national security links and there was no indication that a claim of responsibility from the so-called Islamic State was credible.
In a statement the day after the attack, Hussain’s family said the gunman was mentally ill and several other sources said police had been called to deal with his disturbing behaviour.
Meanwhile, it was revealed Hussain’s older brother Fahad was facing drug and weapons charges when he went into a coma last year following a suspected overdose.
Court documents show Fahad Hussain was charged with trafficking crack cocaine in 2015 in Saskatoon, Sask. Police sources confirmed to Global the handgun used by Faisal Hussain was stolen from a gun store in Saskatchewan in 2016.
Fahad’s case was forwarded to Ontario, where he was ordered to live at a Thorncliffe Park address with his parents as part of his release.
He was arrested in February 2017 for breaching his bail conditions after he was allegedly found to be in possession of shotgun shells. Fahad was then ordered to live in Pickering, Ont., with his surety, Maisum Ansari, 33.
On Sept. 20, 2017, Durham Regional Police executed a search warrant at Ansari’s address, where they discovered 33 guns and seized 42 kilograms of what was later identified as the deadly street drug carfentanil, believed to be 100 times more potent than fentanyl.
Ansari and another man, Babar Ali, 30, face hundreds of related charges and their cases are still before the courts.