The man arrested and charged in the Eaton Centre shooting was a young father wrapped up in gang violence, his father said.
Christopher Husbands, 23, has been arrested and charged with first-degree murder and six counts of attempted murder after he turned himself into police early Monday morning.
Toronto police said Monday that Husbands had been previously charged with an unrelated offence and under house arrest.
Police said the shooting was not gang-related, but there were personal factors involved, despite previous statements at least one of the victims had known gang associations.
“Our investigation continues to suggest this is a targeted shooting and not a random act of violence against the public,” Det. Sgt. Brian Borg, the lead homicide investigator, said at a news conference Monday.
“I do not believe this to be a gang-related shooting,” he added.
But Husbands, who was born in Guyana and immigrated to Toronto in 2000, was involved in gang activity, the Star has learned.
Burchell Husbands, the accused’s father, found out about his son’s involvement in the Eaton Centre shooting shortly after midnight Monday, he said. Burchell Husbands said he’s terrified his family will face retaliation from opposing gang members — though he couldn’t identify who that might be.
“Right now the whole family’s scared,” he said. “We don’t know who’s going to come here just now.”
Burchell Husbands said he’s often the last to know when his son gets in trouble. His son doesn’t live with him and hasn’t since he was 18 and moved out of the family home in Regent Park.
Christopher Husbands, the second youngest of four siblings, followed his father to Toronto. Burchell Husbands came in 1993.
At the time of the shooting Christopher Husbands was living alone in the King and Bathurst Sts. area, his father said.
Christopher has a 5-year-old daughter with an ex-girlfriend, his father said. He said he’s not sure if they know yet about his son’s arrest.
Burchell Husbands said as a child his son was quiet and happy and got along well with his siblings.
In Toronto, he went to Lord Dufferin Public School then high school in the area. That’s when things went downhill, Burchell Husbands said.
“When he reached a certain age … he started problems,” he said.
At 15 or 16 years old, he started getting in fights at school and was known to police for possession of marijuana.
“He was in and out of trouble,” Burchell Husbands said. “I tried to beg him to keep out of trouble.”
He dropped out of high school and started running with gangs in Regent Park, Husbands said — though he was not sure which gang.
Two months ago, Christopher Husbands survived what his father believed was a gang attack by six people when he was stabbed more than 20 times.
Burchell Husbands said he last saw his son in May, when he came to visit for visit.
Burchell Husbands moved out of Regent Park two years ago and is married with three kids. Christopher’s mother is back in Guyana, Husbands said.
“We get along,” Husbands said of his relationship with his son. “He still comes around and visits.”
When asked what he’d want the public to know about his son, there was a long silence on the other end of the phone.
“He was a good guy coming up,” he said. “He was good.”
“Gang changed everything,” he said quietly.
Police believe a 23-year-old man in hospital in critical condition, with bullet wounds to his neck and chest, may have had gang ties.
The dead man, 24-year-old Ahmed Hassan, was known to police, authorities said. He is the city’s 21st homicide of the year.
He died instantly when the gunman opened fire around 6:30 p.m. Saturday.
A 13-year-old boy visiting from Port Hope remained in critical condition with a gunshot would to his head but was improving, police said Sunday.
Four others injured by gunshots were treated and released from hospital.
A seventh person, a pregnant woman apparently knocked over in the panic, spent the night at St. Michael’s Hospital when she went into labour, but the pains stopped and she was released Sunday.
The mall, closed since police evacuated thousands who abandoned bags and food in their rush to safety, re-opened this morning.
Motorists forced to leave their vehicles in the centre parking lot will also be able to retrieve them today, police said.