Still so much we don't know in Danforth shooting

Was Hussain’s killing spree a hate crime? Was it terror or terror-inspired? Or was it a psychotic episode? Right now, we just don’t know.

(This column originally appeared in the Toronto Sun)

By: Candice Malcolm

It’s been nearly a week since the deadly Danforth shooting, leaving two beautiful girls dead and countless others suffering.

And yet, we barely know more now than we did the day after the attack.

Toronto Police are being deliberately tight-lipped. As Detective Sergeant Terry Brown smugly told a news conference on Monday, he refused to release information about the shooter because “there would be a frenzy on social media.”

Eventually, the special unit investigators released the killer’s name: Faisal Hussain, a 29-year-old man who lived with his Pakistani immigrant parents in a poorly integrated Muslim enclave in Toronto.

While we still know very little about the motive of the shooter, two distinct media narratives have emerged.

One comes from the CBC and other leftist outlets: That Hussain was “severely mentally ill” and not responsible for his deranged actions; and another, from media outlets who take a realist approach: That Hussain had gang ties, was a highly skilled gunman, was perhaps interested in ISIS and was known to police.

Each of these narratives comes from in-depth reporting, but each relies on a number of unverified accounts.

The leftist narrative insists that Hussain had a history of mental illness, but can only point to reports using unnamed police sources as well as a statement from the family’s spokesman – a political activist with his own agenda.

One report states Hussain was arrested twice through the Mental Health Act, but relies on anonymous police sources.

We’ve heard a variety of accounts from Hussain’s friends; some attest to his mental illness, others were completely shocked by these claims.

But other reports, also using unnamed police sources, contradict this claim. According to a report from one of Canada’s top crime reporters, Christie Blatchford, in the National Post, “Toronto Police files show little evidence of the typical history of a person with a florid mental illness.”

Toronto Police could set the record straight, but thus far refuse.

Further complicating things, ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack, calling Hussain “a soldier for the Islamic State.”

The Toronto Police were quick to dispel this claim, stating there is no evidence back it. Reports in both the Sun and CBS, however, quoted unnamed police sources suggesting that Hussain was known to authorities for visiting ISIS-linked websites.

Many insist the ISIS claim is untrue, pointing to a report that Hussain died of a self-inflicted gunshot and insisting jihadists don’t believe in suicide.

Aside from the absurdity that jihadists, who routinely blow themselves up, don’t believe in suicide, the report came from the Hussain family’s spin doctor and relies on anonymous sources, not verified accounts.

Then we have the account of a businessman, a Mr. Singh, who bumped into the gunman on the Danforth moments before his massacre. Hussain told Singh, “Don’t worry, I won’t kill you,” leading Singh to speculate he may have been spared because “I also have brown skin.”

Was Hussain’s killing spree a hate crime? Was it terror or terror-inspired? Or was it a psychotic episode?

Perhaps the truth lies somewhere in between, as we know ISIS deliberately recruits people with mental problems to carry out their attacks.

Eventually, the facts will come out and we’ll learn the full story.

Right now, we just don’t know. And that, in part, is because top brass in the Toronto Police don’t want us to know.

They refuse to provide even the most basic of facts. They prefer speculation and rumours to entrusting Canadians with the truth.