‘Smiling as he was shooting’: New documents reveal eyewitness accounts of Danforth shooter
On a warm Sunday evening, Noor Samiei was out for ice cream with seven of her friends, including Reese Fallon, on Toronto’s Danforth neighbourhood celebrating a birthday, when the sound of gunfire tore through the night.
Samiei and her friends were headed towards the parkette at Danforth and Logan avenues when she heard approximately four gunshots just before 10 p.m. ET on July 22.
“She turned and saw the shooter approximately one meter from them holding a gun and pointing it out with both arms,” Samiei told investigators, according to newly released police documents. “She advised they all [start] running and she fell down scraping her knees and chin and when she looked back she saw Miranda on the floor.”
The eyewitness account is contained in documents filed by police in relation to the Danforth mass shooting and made public for the first time on Thursday, nearly two months after the tragedy.
They provide detailed information about the movements of the gunman during the deadly attack and his interactions with innocent by-standers who found themselves in the middle of the deadly rampage.
Media outlets, including Global News, have been fighting since August for the release of the Information to Obtain (ITO) applications that police filed the day after the shooting to obtain search warrants. They were for the apartment where the shooter, Faisal Hussain, lived with his parents and a police storage locker.
The documents indicate Hussain was emotionally disturbed and describe his activity in the hours before the mass shooting that killed 18-year-old Reese Fallon and 10-year-old Julianna Kozis. Miranda Li, friend of Fallon and Samiei, was injured, along with 12 others when Hussain opened fire with a handgun.
As the shooting began, Samiei heard screaming and another friend yell out that she had been shot.
“She ran inside the nearby Leonidas with some friends and tried to call 911 but couldn’t get through,” the documents said.
Meanwhile, Jaspal Singh told investigators he left his house through the backyard that entered an alleyway running parallel with Danforth and Dearborn avenues.
He came face to face with Hussain, who said: “Don’t worry, I’m not going to shoot you.”
“When he was about thirty feet south of Danforth, the same male told him ‘Get out of the way.’ Singh watched as the male drew a fire arm and fired three shots at people who were exiting ‘7 numbers,” police wrote.
Singh dove behind a parked car as a police vehicle arrived on the scene.
“The male turned and fired two shots at the police vehicle before running west bound along Danforth,” according to Singh. “The male was smiling as he was shooting.”
Meanwhile, another witness, Kyle Banka, was heading to his girlfriend’s apartment when he heard the shots. Banka told investigators he ran up to her second floor apartment where the couple stood, looked over the balcony, and saw the shooter fire two more rounds.
“Banka exited the apartment unit and attempted to look for the male shooter,” the documents said. “A male was yelling there is a shooter, everyone get inside.”
He continued to follow Hussain along the Danforth, “being cautious not be seen and taking cover.”
“Banka observed a bag on the male shooter and believed the shooter may have had extra ammo in the bag,” police wrote.
As police arrived, officers yelled at him to stay down. Banka heard yelling and then more shots fired.
The ITOs confirmed that Hussain ended his life with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
Shortly after the shooting, Hussain’s cell phone rang in his pocket repeatedly with the word “home” on the screen. A police officer answered the call and spoke with the 29-year-old’s parents, who were on the line.
The officer asked them to come down to the police station.
During a search of Hussain’s apartment immediately following the shootings, a police explosives dog directed officers to a drawer under a bed. Inside it, police found a white powder they suspected was cocaine and other items that a judge has prohibited media outlets from disclosing.
“Given the amount of ammunition on hand, it is reasonable to believe that this occurrence was planned and that items of planning, both physical and digital on electronic devices, will be located within his residence,” police wrote.
Police seized several electronic devices from the home including cellphones, iPads, laptops and digital cameras.
“The accused’s electronic communications may have data pertaining to counselling or assisting other people in carrying out similar attacks or provide evidence of others counselling or inciting Faisal Hussain to commit his offences,” the document said.
Police are continuing to investigate whether anyone aside from Hussain was involved, a possible motive, how he obtained the gun, and whether anyone had a role in providing the weapon and bullets.
While the documents don’t reveal an explanation for the shooting, they include statements from his family, who described his actions the night of the shooting.
Hussain’s twin brother described an isolated young man who was struggling emotionally.
“He advised that in the past, Faisal has robbed a store with a gun, called the police to say he wanted to kill himself, and has been on anti-depressants,” Toronto police wrote.
“For the last couple years, Faisal has had no real friends. He started attending the mosque with his father but did not seem that interested in religion,” it said, adding that “Faisal was into guns when he was younger.”
According to the documents, police had received three calls about Hussain in 2010, relating to mental-health issues, and just two days before the shooting, he had been arrested for shoplifting but was released unconditionally.
The brother said that on July 22, Hussain got home from work at 2:30 p.m. and he spoke to Hussain “about getting his life together, getting married and getting direction.”
Instead of listening, Hussain called repeatedly himself “mentally retarded” and went out onto the balcony of the family apartment to smoke a cigarette, his brother told police investigators.
“He left the house that evening to go for a walk around 8:30 p.m., never to return,” police wrote.
Both the Toronto police and the Special Investigations Unit, which are conducting separate investigations, declined to comment on the release of the documents.
— With files from Stewart Bell
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