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.
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 charged with two counts of first-degree murder, 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.
Husbands, who was 23 when the shootings occurred, was under house arrest at the time for a separate charge of sexual assault. In 2010, he was charged in Hamilton, Ont., with nine gun-related offences, obstructing a police officer, failing to meet bail conditions and possession of marijuana.
Husbands is also facing two multi-million dollar lawsuits brought forward by the families of the dead victims that claim he should have been under closer supervision when the Eaton Centre shootings occurred due to his house arrest.
The suits claim that Husbands believed Nirmalendran and Hassan were responsible for an earlier assault, during which he was reportedly stabbed.
Also named in the lawsuits are the Hamilton and Toronto police boards, two people who posted bail for Husbands, the owners of the Eaton Centre and the province of Ontario.