SIU clears two Toronto police officers in death of Danforth gunman, release more details on what happened on night of mass shooting

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The Special Investigations Unit has ruled that there are no reasonable grounds to lay criminal charges against two Toronto police officers in connection to the death of the Danforth gunman in July, 2018.

The police watchdog found that Faisal Hussain died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on July 22, after he opened fire on a busy stretch of Danforth Ave., killing two people and leaving 13 others injured.

The rear window of a police cruiser was shattered when it was struck by a bullet during an exchange of gunfire between the police and Faisal Hussain after the Danforth shooting in 2018.
The rear window of a police cruiser was shattered when it was struck by a bullet during an exchange of gunfire between the police and Faisal Hussain after the Danforth shooting in 2018.  (Special Investigations Unit)

The report, released Wednesday, not only cleared the officers but gave graphic new details on what happened that night, as well as providing evidence photos.

A person first called 911 at 10 p.m. to report that “someone had been shot on the Danforth” at Pappas Grill.

Read more:

Police found AK-47 ammunition in Danforth shooter’s apartment, court documents say

More coverage of Danforth shooting

“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 found. “One caller indicated that the shooter, Mr. Hussain, had stood on top of a woman and shot her multiple times in the back. At 10:05 p.m., another caller reported that Mr. Hussain was heading westbound on Danforth Ave. and was in possession of a black handgun.”

Two officers in a cruiser encountered Hussain on the west sidewalk of Bowden St. and approached him. Hussain fired at them multiple times and “fearing for their lives,” the two officers fired back, the report found.

One officer “moved to take cover behind the police vehicle and discharged his firearm, hitting the police cruiser’s rear passenger window, causing the glass to shatter and a projectile to become lodged in the window’s frame,” the report found.

“Mr. Hussain fled northbound on Bowden St. and then westbound on Danforth Ave.”

A few minutes later, Toronto police officers found Hussain’s body on Danforth Ave., in front of the Danforth Church, at 60 Bowden St. A black Smith and Wesson .40 calibre handgun and two fully loaded handgun magazines were found near his body.

An autopsy later confirmed the cause of death, the SIU said.

“I believe that (the officers) are credible and their accounts of the incident quite reliable because their statements were overwhelmingly consistent with the remainder of the evidence, including the statements of multiple civilian witnesses who witnessed or heard the exchange of gunfire,” SIU Director Tony Loparco wrote.

The SIU is an agency that investigates incidents involving police in which someone is killed, injured or accused of sexual assault.

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Rhianna Jackson-Kelso is a breaking news reporter, working out of the Star’s radio room in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter: @RhiannaJK

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Cache of ammunition, 9/11-conspiracy films seized from Danforth shooter’s home, documents reveal

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Nearly six months after Toronto’s deadly Danforth Avenue shooting rampage, newly released details from court documents reveal a startling amount of ammunition was found in the apartment of gunman Faisal Hussain, along with a number of DVDs by the American conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.

In the hours after the shooting, which claimed the lives of 18-year-old Reese Fallon and 10-year-old Julianna Kozis, police entered Hussain’s highrise apartment in the city’s Thorncliffe Park neighbourhood.

According to details revealed Tuesday, a sniffer dog trained to detect explosives zeroed in on a bedroom, locating two AK-47 magazines, two 9 mm handguns — all fully loaded — other handgun and shotgun ammunition, and a white powdery substance.

Hussain, 29, died of a self-inflicted shot to the head after a gunfight with officers on the night of July 22, 2018, a police source previously told CBC News. Police found cocaine on his body and a cellphone, still ringing with a call from « home. »

The court documents — less heavily redacted versions of those released in the fall — don’t offer a clear picture of Hussain’s motive, but do show he had access to a large cache of ammunition when he left home for the Danforth neighbourhood, never to return.

9/11 conspiracy films among items seized

Also found in the bedroom were DVDs, mainly involving 9/11 conspiracy theories, including three by Jones, the founder of the far-right conspiratorial website Infowars. Those were The Road to Tyranny, Terror Storm and American Dictators.

« His anti-establishment conspiracies were picked up by extremists of all stripes, » said Amarnath Amarasingam, senior research fellow at the Institute of Strategic Dialogue.

The Jones films feed into the view that Western governments are « not to be trusted, that most of what we see is a sham, and that some mysterious powerful elite was secretly orchestrating, for their own benefit, most of the evils that we see in our societies, » Amarasingam said. « The 9/11 conspiracy theories are part and parcel of this kind of thinking. »

Other titles included Painful DeceptionsIraq for SaleWeapons of Mass Deception and one bearing the handwritten title « What is Islama. »

The documents also say investigators found two receipts for cash payments totalling $9,310 to a community housing facility in Rawalpindi, a district in the northern part of Pakistan’s Punjab province. Hussain’s father told investigators he had taken his son to Pakistan two to three years earlier to visit family.

While there, he said in the documents, « Faisal was happy on the trip and did not want to return because people left him alone there. »

Hussain, 29, lived with his mother, father and brother in a highrise in Toronto’s Thorncliffe Park neighbourhood. (Adrian Cheung/CBC)

Shooter had no real friends, family says

Hussain had no real friends, his twin brother told police. On the day of the shooting, Hussain arrived home around 2:30 p.m. He and his brother talked about Hussain « getting his life together, getting married and getting direction, » according to the documents. 

During the conversation Hussain repeatedly referred to himself as « mentally retarded, » before going out to the balcony for a cigarette.

Hussain’s mother told police her son saw a psychiatrist, while his father told police he didn’t have any mental health issues. His brother said Hussain wanted to kill himself and had been on anti-depressants.

Video posted on social media showed Hussain dressed in black pulling out a gun and firing at least three shots into Danforth restaurant. (@ArielAnise/Twitter)

But while Hussain had no criminal record, as CBC News previously reported, guns, gangs and drugs weren’t far away. Court records show Hussain’s older brother, Farad Hussain, in a coma in hospital since early 2017, had ties to a Thorncliffe Park street gang. A police source previously told CBC News he may have once possessed the handgun his brother used in the Danforth shooting. 

As part of their seizure, police also obtained a number of electronics including a laptop, two iPads and various cameras. In the documents, police argued that the « only way of understanding the true extent of what occurred or was planned » was to go through a number of the devices seized. 

Toronto police did not immediately respond to comment about the status of the investigation, the results of their electronic search, updates on Hussain’s motive or if any other charges are outstanding.

The province’s police watchdog says it intends to release its findings on the case « in the coming days, » said spokesperson Monica Hudon.

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Police found AK-47 ammunition in Danforth shooter’s apartment, new court documents say

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Searching through Danforth gunman Faisal Hussain’s apartment in the aftermath of July’s mass shooting, Toronto police found a stockpile of ammunition that included two loaded magazines for an AK-47 assault rifle, though no guns were recovered inside the home, newly released police documents say.

The documents released Tuesday raise more questions about the possible motive behind the shooting on July 22, when 29-year-old Hussain opened fire with a handgun along a busy stretch of Danforth Ave., killing 18-year-old Reese Fallon and 10-year-old Julianna Kozis and leaving 13 others injured. He then fatally shot himself.

Faisal Hussain, shown in an undated photo provided by his family, opened fire with a handgun along a busy stretch of Danforth Ave. on July 22, 2018, killing 18-year-old Reese Fallon and 10-year-old Julianna Kozis and leaving 13 others injured. He then fatally shot himself.
Faisal Hussain, shown in an undated photo provided by his family, opened fire with a handgun along a busy stretch of Danforth Ave. on July 22, 2018, killing 18-year-old Reese Fallon and 10-year-old Julianna Kozis and leaving 13 others injured. He then fatally shot himself.  (Family of Faisal Hussain / AP)

Police searching inside the 43 Thorncliffe Park Dr. apartment Hussain shared with his parents found — in a drawer under a bed — ammunition for various guns, some loosely collected in a black sock, some loaded into magazines, including for a 9mm gun. Investigators also found an empty handgun box and a soft rifle case and trigger guard. The firearms themselves were not located, according to a police document written one day after the shooting.

“It is reasonable to believe that when fully loaded magazines and cases are located, there would be firearms to match loaded in the residence but there was not,” a Toronto investigator wrote.

Read more:

Details on Danforth gunman revealed in documents police filed to obtain search warrant

Suspected Danforth shooter’s family cites psychosis, ‘severe mental health challenges’

Who was the Danforth shooter? Faisal Hussain had no criminal court files associated with his name, but a complicated past full of family misfortune

The court files released Tuesday are “information to obtain” (ITO) documents, affidavits police file to get the court’s permission to perform certain types of investigations, including a home search. The documents typically contain fresh details about an investigation, including summaries of evidence.

A partially redacted version of the documents was released in September, after court applications by the Star and other media, though they did not reveal the information about the ammunition.

The documents show police did not obtain a search warrant before the first search, in the early hours after the shooting. Citing a concern for human life, an officer from Toronto’s Emergency Task Force (ETF) and an explosives-sniffing dog went into the apartment, where they discovered the ammunition.

They also found a “white powdery substance” and an Islamic headscarf, the documents state.

Police later filed ITOs to continue their search of the home and the electronics seized inside the apartment.

A Toronto police forensic identification services van sits parked in front 43 Thorncliffe Park Dr. where Faisal Hussain lived with his parents.
A Toronto police forensic identification services van sits parked in front 43 Thorncliffe Park Dr. where Faisal Hussain lived with his parents.  (Tamara Lush/AP)

The documents also show police found four DVDs that appear to include several 9/11 conspiracy videos and documentaries about the Iraq war. One of the videos has the same name, “American Dictators,” as a film released by Infowars conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.

The ITO also notes receipts in the amounts of $1000 and $8310 for cash paid to the “Abad Co-operative Housing Society Ltd.” in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. The receipts were for a “Mrs. Fakhira Sultana.”

According to the police documents, Hussain’s father said Faisal Hussain went to Islamabad, Pakistan two or three years ago to visit family. “Faisal was happy on the trip and did not want to return home because people left him alone there,” the documents quote Hussain’s father as saying.

Hussain’s parents have previously said their son suffered from “severe mental health challenges” and struggled with psychosis and depression. The police documents state Hussain had both a family doctor and a psychiatrist.

In another ITO filed to seek authorization to search through electronics seized by police — including four cell phones located in his room, a laptop and two tablets — police stress that a review of his online activities may be the sole way to learn more about him.

“Faisal Hussein’s only companions appear to be his parents and they do not even know him that well and what he has been up to. The only way to understand the true extent of what ocurred or was planned is to go to the only place Hussein spent time, which is on these devices,” the documents state.

A Toronto police officer on the scene of the mass shooting on Danforth Ave.
A Toronto police officer on the scene of the mass shooting on Danforth Ave.  (Richard Lautens/Toronto Star)

Hussain exchanged gunfire with two officers before he died of a self-inflicted gunshot to the head. Because of the gunfight involving police, Ontario’s police watchdog, the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), is probing Hussain’s death.

Spokesperson Monica Hudon said Tuesday that the SIU expects to release a decision in this case in the coming days.

Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders said in a year-end press conference that “there will be an opportunity (to) present whatever we can to the public” about the Danforth shooting, since there will be no trial.

Wendy Gillis is a Toronto-based reporter covering crime and policing. Reach her by email at wgillis@thestar.ca or follow her on Twitter: @wendygillis

Alyshah Hasham is a Toronto-based reporter covering crime and court. Follow her on Twitter: @alysanmati

Betsy Powell is a Toronto-based reporter covering crime and courts. Follow her on Twitter: @powellbetsy

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Christmas trip home has special significance for couple affected by Danforth shooting

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Jerry Pinksen introduced his girlfriend, Danielle Kane, to all the expected things on her first trip to Newfoundland over Christmas. The couple visited friends and family in Pinksen’s hometown of Straitsview on the Northern Peninsula and spent time outdoors enjoying the winter weather.

« I got to ride on a Ski-Doo for the first time, and I drove it too, » Kane told The St. John’s Morning Show. She called the experience « exhilarating, » even if she was surprised by how cold her thumbs got.

« Remember, she’s still a mainlander, » Pinksen joked. « There’s only so much we can do; she’s not so tough as us. »

But Kane is actually plenty tough, as her boyfriend of two years and many others have seen first-hand over the past few months. The ability to travel for a Christmas vacation in rural Newfoundland is one sign — of many — of how much the Toronto woman has recovered since she was injured in the July 22 shooting in the city’s Danforth neighbourhood.

Kane rode — and drove — a snowmobile for the first time while on the Northern Peninsula. (Provided by Jerry Pinksen)

« It was fantastic. I loved it. Everyone was so warm and welcoming, » Kane said. The trip came just five months after she spent 11 days in a medically induced coma in intensive care, the start of her long recovery from injuries that left her in a wheelchair.

« I felt like I was coming home even though I hadn’t met a lot of the folks up there. »

July 22 shooting

On the evening of July 22, Pinksen and Kane were having dinner with a friend on the patio of the Danforth’s 7Numbers restaurant when they heard gunshots.

The group ran inside for shelter but Pinksen, an emergency room nurse, left to help when he heard someone outside had been shot.

« With my medical training I knew I could help this person, so I told Danielle, ‘I have to exit, I have to help this woman,' » he said.

He didn’t know that Kane, a nursing student herself who had first aid training, had followed him to the restaurant’s emergency exit.

« I didn’t think that Jerry should go out by himself because in any emergency situation you’re going to want all hands on deck, » Kane said.

If the gunshot was just a little bit higher, I probably would not have made it.– Danielle Kane

Pinksen was able to duck out of the way when he saw the shooter, Faisal Hussain, raise a gun, but Kane was hit while standing in the exit.

« I was told that if the gunshot was just a little bit higher, I probably would not have made it, » she said.

Recovering from injuries

Though she survived the shooting, her injuries mean she will remain in a wheelchair, Kane said.

Her T11 vertebra was shattered, and doctors had to fuse her T10 and T20 vertebrae. She also needed three abdominal surgeries to clean internal debris left by injuries to her stomach, she said.

Kane had several surgeries and spent 11 days in a medically induced coma after the July shooting. (GoFundMe)

« My abdomen was left open for three days because there was too much swelling. »

However, Kane says she has recovered significantly since the shooting and expects to continue to do so through her ongoing rehabilitation in Toronto.

« I’ve learned that basically I can still gain back a lot of independence. I’ll be able to drive again, I’ll be able to return to work, and I’ll still be able to have children, » she said. 

« It’s not a death sentence. »

Danielle Kane attends rehabilitation therapy a few times a week and is exercising to build her strength, with a goal of getting her driver’s licence in the spring. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

She hopes to regain her licence in the spring, and plans to intern with the Ontario Nurses’ Association this summer before resuming her nursing studies in September.

Pinksen said he’s not prepared to return to work in an emergency room, but he hopes to continue to deal with the trauma of the shooting and reassess his readiness in a few months.

For now, he said, he is focusing on helping Danielle recover, especially considering the benefit his medical experience brings to their situation.

Kane, left, says she loved her first visit to Newfoundland, spent with Pinksen, standing, and his family. ‘Everyone was so warm and welcoming,’ she says. (Provided by Jerry Pinksen)

« It’s better for us to be healing together and while I can help Danielle the best way I can, being a nurse, » he said.

Having Pinksen’s help, as well as the support of family and friends, has been key in staying optimistic about the future, Kane said. 

« It’s been amazing. Everyone asks me, ‘Why are you doing so well?’ And I’m like, ‘I have such great support.' »

Focused on the future

Pinksen and Kane continue to have some sympathy for Hussain, 29, who killed himself after the shooting, in which he injured 13 people and killed two.

The two have had a lot to process since Kane was released from the hospital, but both still believe Hussain must have been struggling himself to act as he did.

« I still believe in my heart that this person was suffering, » said Pinksen. 

« He had to be suffering to think and plan out such an assault on all these individuals and want to bring so much terror and pain. »

Pinksen and Kane both say they are trying to look ahead to their future. ‘We can’t dwell on what happened,’ Pinksen says. (Provided by Jerry Pinksen)

Kane pointed to her own history with depression, saying that she believes Hussain must have been not only disturbed, but isolated and lonely.

« I try to think about how my depression affected my life before, and how maybe I didn’t appreciate what I had, all the good things I had in my life before, » she said.

Focusing on that good has helped her recovery, Kane said, because it has helped her realize how much love she has in her life and how much living she has left to do.

The couple tries to look toward the full life they have ahead instead of back on what happened, Pinksen said.

« We try not to dwell on him or that, and just know that we’re still lucky to be alive, we’re still lucky to have each other, and we’re just going to look forward. »

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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3 people taken to hospital after brawl on stage at Danforth Music Hall

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Rapper Pusha T’s performance at the Danforth Music Hall in Toronto on Tuesday night was interrupted after police said several people tried to attack performers on stage.

Toronto police responded to a call for an assault in progress in the Danforth and Broadview Avenues area just after 10:30 p.m. ET. There was about 1,400 people in attendance at the concert, police say. 

Emergency crews transported three people to hospital with minor injuries. Police spokesperson Katrina Arrogante ​would not say if those people taken to hospital were the performers.

She said no charges have been laid.

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