Christopher Husbands, 25, allegedly opened fire in the busy Yonge Street shopping mall’s food court in June 2012, killing 22-year-old Nixon Nirmalendran and 24-year-old Ahmed Hassan in what police called a “targeted shooting” at the time. Police, however, have denied it was necessarily gang-related, but that it was the result of an internal dispute as Husbands and the two victims were thought to be members of the same gang.
Husbands admitted responsibility on Friday for the havoc, but denied going to the landmark downtown mall intending to kill anyone.
The Crown, however, said Husbands, who has pleaded not guilty to two counts of first-degree murder, did indeed plan to kill his victims.
Pleads not guilty to all charges
The barrage of bullets also struck a 13-year-old boy in the head, wounding him severely, while a pregnant woman was trampled in the melee as she tried to flee the mall along with thousands of others.
Husbands is also charged with five counts of aggravated assault for each of the people injured, one count of criminal negligence causing bodily harm for the injuries sustained by the pregnant victim and one count of recklessly discharging a firearm.
He has pleaded not guilty to all charges and now faces a jury trial.
The start of the trial was briefly postponed Friday morning after two jurors asked to be excused, one because he could not afford the time off work and the other because he attended high school with Husbands. Both requests were granted.
“There was only one shooter, there was only one person seen with a firearm,” prosecutor Mary Humphrey told the court in her opening statement on Friday.
“There was only one person that inflicted all the casualties, physical and emotional, and that was Christopher Husbands.”
However, defence lawyer Dirk Derstine will argue the accused was indeed responsible for the deaths and injuries but that it was a “chance encounter” with a group of five men that prompted him to open fire, the judge said.