Sri Lankan family dead in Canada ‘mass killing’

  • By Johanna Chisholm and Nadine Yousif
  • BBC News, Toronto

Canadian police are describing the deaths of members of a Sri Lankan family, including four young children, in Ottawa as a “mass murder.”

Police say the six victims were newcomers to Canada and the youngest was less than three months old.

A 19-year-old student from Sri Lanka who lived with the family has been charged in the murders.

“This was a senseless act of violence against purely innocent people,” Ottawa’s police chief said Thursday.

Officers responded Wednesday to emergency calls placed at approximately 10:52 PM local time (03:52 GMT) from the Ottawa suburb of Barrhaven.

When they arrived, Police Chief Eric Stubbs said officers quickly identified the suspect, who was arrested without incident.

Officers then entered the home and discovered the victims, including a mother, her four children and an acquaintance who lived with the family.

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The victims were identified as 35-year-old Darshani Banbaranayake Gama Walwwe Darshani Dilanthika Ekanyake and her four children: seven-year-old Inuka Wickramasinghe, four-year-old Ashwini Wickramasinghe, two-year-old Rinyana Wickramasinghe and two-month-old Kelly Wickramasinghe.

The known and sixth deceased victim were identified as 40-year-old Amarakoonmudiayansela Ge Gamini Amarakoon.

Chief Stubbs said the father of the family suffered injuries and was taken to hospital in serious but stable condition.

The suspect was identified by police as 19-year-old Febrio De-Zoysa. He is charged with six counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder.

Chief Stubbs said the victims were killed and wounded using an “edged weapon.” The police investigation is ongoing.

He said the incident is the largest homicide in Ottawa’s recent history and called it a “real tragedy” that would continue to have a “significant” impact on the nation’s capital.

“I am sure the impact on the community is significant,” he added, stressing that residents and community members should stay away from the area.

In a separate interview with CBC News earlier on Thursday, he incorrectly called the incident a “mass shooting,” which was later corrected.

On Thursday in Toronto, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed his “shock and horror” at the incident, which he called a “terrible act of violence.”

Ottawa’s mayor called the multi-homicide event “one of the most shocking incidents of violence in our city’s history.”

“We are proud to live in a safe community, but this news is disturbing for all Ottawa residents,” Mark Sutcliffe wrote in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“Thank you to our first responders who are investigating and supporting those affected by this terrible event,” he added.

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