TORONTO — The man behind a deadly shooting spree in the heart of Toronto's Greektown came from a supportive family beleaguered with troubles and showed no outward signs of the mental illness believed to have plagued him for years, neighbours said Tuesday.
Residents of the central Toronto apartment complex where 29-year-old Faisal Hussain lived with his parents expressed shock that someone among them could have carried out the Sunday night rampage that killed a 10-year-old girl and 18-year-old aspiring nurse. Hussain was found dead after exchanging gunfire with police.
Sairah Ahmed said that while Hussain did not mingle with fellow residents as his parents frequently did, he was a familiar sight around the neighbourhood.
"I used to see him around a lot and he did not seem to have any behaviour problems," Ahmed said, adding that she was shocked to learn of Hussain's involvement in the shooting.
Hussain's family issued a statement on Monday evening saying their son had a long history of psychosis and depression and had not responded to numerous treatment approaches, including therapy and medication. The family said they were shocked at Hussain's "senseless violence" and expressed their condolences for the families of the victims.
Sadaf Pathan, another one of the family's neighbours, said the Hussains have contended with tragedy before.
She said the gunman's mother had told her about the relatively recent death of her daughter and an unspecified illness affecting her other son. Her husband also seemed to have a long-term health condition, Pathan said.
She described the family matriarch as very kind and caring, but said the family troubles showed.
"She always has a very serious look on her face, and she looks like she's so much in pain," Pathan said.
Closer to the scene of the shooting, mourners began paying tribute to one of the shooting victims at the high school she attended until weeks before her death.
Reese Fallon, 18, had just graduated from Malvern Collegiate and was due to start studying nursing at Hamilton's McMaster University in the fall, according to social media posts from her family members.
Anthony Parise, who taught Fallon's Grade 12 English class, remembered her as "a leader among her peers" and a fantastic caregiver.
"Her plan was to become a mental health nurse," he said. "Knowing what I know of Reese, she would have been an exceptional nurse, because she was a natural caregiver."
Mark Steel, who was Fallon's chemistry teacher last year, said she was a great student. Steel's wife, Julie Steel, organized an online fundraising campaign for a memorial scholarship in Fallon's name.
She would have been an exceptional nurse, because she was a natural caregiver.Anthony Parise, Reese Fallon's English teacher
"Our idea was that we'd give the scholarship out annually to a Malvern collegiate graduate who was going into a nursing program, because Reese was so excited and so proud to do that," she said, biting back tears. "She would have been an incredible nurse."
The identity of the 10-year-old girl killed in the attack has not been released.
UPDATE - July 24:Police have identified Julianna Kozis, of Markham, Ont., as the 10-year-old child who was killed.
Police have said 13 other people were injured in the carnage.
Ontario's police watchdog is probing the circumstances around Hussain's death, saying only that he died shortly after exchanging gunfire with two police officers. The agency probes all police-involved incidents in which someone is killed, injured or accused of sexual assault.
Toronto police are carrying out their own investigation into the attack and what motivated it. They have said they are looking at all possibilities.
As authorities conducted their probes, area residents returned to Danforth Avenue to place candles, flowers and messages of support at various makeshift memorials.
In large letters, the words "Danforth Strong" have been spray-painted on scaffolding while phrases such as "Greek town strong" and "we will not be afraid" were written in chalk on the pavement around a fountain decorated with flowers, notes and candles.
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