Danforth gunman Faisal Hussain exchanged fire with Toronto police before shooting himself in his right temple, a long-awaited report from Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit confirms.
The details of the shooting were contained in an SIU report released Wednesday that concludes police officers acted appropriately in their response to the July 22 mass shooting that killed 18-year-old Reese Fallon and 10-year-old Julianna Kozis and injured 13 others.
SIU director Tony Loparco said that Hussain “decided to kill himself rather than surrender to police.” The SIU found the officers’ “use of force was entirely appropriate under the circumstances.”
“Hussain was actively shooting at the officers, creating an immediate and significant threat,” Loparco said. “It was reasonably necessary for the police officers to discharge their firearms in an ultimately failed attempt to neutralize the threat.”
The report identified the handgun used by Hussain as a black coloured .40-calibre Smith and Wesson. Two fully loaded handgun magazines were located near his body, according to the report, along with three more in a black bag.
Global News has previously reported that the handgun found at the scene, a .40-calibre Smith and Wesson, was stolen during a break-and-enter at a gun store in Saskatchewan in 2016. On Tuesday, newly unsealed search warrants showed that officers discovered a cache of ammunition — including fully loaded AK-47 magazines — as well as conspiracy theory documentaries in Hussain’s bedroom.
The SIU’s report also offered new details of the night of shooting when a person called 911 at 10 p.m. to report that “someone had been shot on the Danforth” at Pappas Grill.
“The 911 communications centre was immediately flooded with other callers reporting a shooting on Danforth Ave. and that people were running or injured,” the report said. “One caller indicated that the shooter, Mr. Hussain, had stood on top of a woman and shot her multiple times in the back.”
Two officers in a police cruiser encountered Hussain on the west side of Bowden Street and began to approach him when Hussain fired at them multiple times. “Fearing for their lives” the two officers fired back, the report said.
Loparco concluded that there was “no basis” to charge officers following the SIU’s investigation, which focused on the actions of police immediately after the shooting.
“It is clear that both officers feared for their lives and for the lives of others, and it is similarly clear that this fear was objectively reasonable,” he said. “Mr. Hussain took his own life and … no TPS officer involved in the incident committed a criminal offence. Indeed, in this case there is no evidence that the responding officers’ actions were anything but commendable in the face of truly perilous circumstances.”
READ MORE: SIU report details death of Danforth killer
Western University criminology professor Michael Arntfield said the amount of ammunition found at the scene and in Hussain’s home is “eerily reminiscent” of other mass shooters and indicates a detailed level of planning.
“This speaks to a whole other level of organization,” he said. “This could have been much worse. And was this the first stage in a multi-pronged attack? The level of weaponry would suggest so.”
“This offender took his own life, realizing he had no way out. We can only be left to wonder what phase two might have been.”
The SIU is the provincial agency responsible for investigating incidents involving police in which someone is killed, injured or accused of sexual assault. The agency’s investigation consisted of interviews with 15 civilian witnesses and seven officer witnesses, as well as a surveillance video and in-car camera footage which captured the incident.
Ali Demircan, who was injured in the rampage, said the amount of ammunition and extended magazines raises more questions about the gunman’s preparation before the attack.
Toronto police have been conducting a separate investigation into the tragedy, examining whether anyone aside from Hussain was involved, a possible motive, how he obtained the gun, and whether anyone else had a role in providing the weapon and bullets.
Toronto police said in a statement Wednesday afternoon that its officers were continuing work on “this large-scale investigation.”
“We have committed to releasing a full investigative report when our work is done,” Police Chief Mark Saunders said in a statement. “The information released yesterday by the courts only represents the very early stages of our investigative efforts.
“We understand the concerns raised due to the partial release of this information but once our work is complete, there will be a more fulsome understanding of this incident.”
Arntfield said police are often wary to comment publicly on investigations when there is a parallel probe being conducted by the SIU.
“The SIU took months to wrap up what should have been a straightforward investigation,” he said. “What we had was a perfect storm of agencies being circumspect to the point of leaving people frustrated and anxious.”