Saad Akhtar’s mother said she has not been able to sleep since Toronto police came to her door at around 1 a.m. on Saturday and told her about her son’s arrest.
She said she only later learned that the 30-year-old, who she told Global News was studying part-time at Ryerson University in computer programming, had been charged with the first-degree murder of a 64-year-old woman who was walking along Sheppard Avenue East near Markham Road.
“How’s this happen? I cannot match this fact with Saad,” said his mother, who asked that her first name not be used.
She explained that her son walked an hour every day to an area mosque and back. But on Friday night, she said he did not return home at around 8:30 p.m. as usual.
Toronto police said they were called by a passerby to Sheppard Avenue East near Havenview Road at around 7 p.m. for a possible medical complaint.
Police said a woman was walking eastbound along Sheppard Avenue East when she was attacked by a man armed with a hammer. She succumbed to her injuries.
Akhtar turned himself into 42 Division a few hours later and was charged with first-degree murder. The victim was identified as Hang-Kam Annie Chiu.
The accused’s mother said she had no idea who the victim was, calling Chiu “a stranger” to the family and her son.
Akhtar’s mother also said she found it difficult to believe because the location of the deadly attack was not on her son’s route home.
She explained he seemed upset and depressed because his mother was pressuring him about when he was going to graduate and get a job, but does not believe her son — who had been previously diagnosed with ADHD and obsessive-compulsive disorder — could be capable of such violence.
“My son cannot do that. Must be somebody else (who) was doing that and he grabbed the weapon and presented it so that he will not come home,” Akhtar’s mother said.
She said Akhtar has a temper and has punched a hole in a wall before and broken furniture, but has never shown any violence towards people. Akhtar’s mother said she wondered if he has other mental health issues.
“Of course we worry about him, but we can’t help because he doesn’t want to take help,” she said.
Court documents obtained by Global News showed that Akhtar had no previous criminal record. On Saturday, she said her son was remanded into custody and refused any help from his parents.
Akhtar is set to appear in court on March 31 by video. The allegations have not been proven in court.