‘Terrible tragedy’: Canada rocked by mass killing of Sri Lankan family | Crime News

The victims of a rare mass murder in Ottawa included four children and two adults. A 19-year-old acquaintance was arrested.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has condemned the massacre of an Ottawa family who had recently moved from Sri Lanka, calling it an act of “terrible violence.”

Trudeau’s comments came Thursday in the hours after a family and their acquaintance were killed in an apparent late-night stabbing in the Ottawa suburb of Barrhaven.

The victims include a 35-year-old woman and her four children, aged seven, four, two and two months. A 40-year-old family friend was also killed.

The attack has resonated across Canada, where, unlike its southern neighbor the United States, mass attacks are rare. There were only fourteen murders in 2023 in Ottawa, a city of one million inhabitants. The year before there were only fifteen.

“Obviously our initial reactions are all shock and horror at this terrible violence,” Trudeau told reporters.

“We expect the community to reach out to support family and friends, as Canadians always do. And we expect the appropriate police to do the job and keep us all informed about this terrible tragedy.”

An Ottawa Police Service officer stands at a blood-stained door in Barrhaven, a suburb of Ottawa in Ontario, Canada [Blair Gable/Reuters]

The motive for the killing was not immediately clear, although police said 19-year-old Febrio De-Zoysa, a student from Sri Lanka, has been arrested and charged with six counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder.

Police said De-Zoysa was an acquaintance who was staying with the family but had no previous contact with police.

‘Senseless act’

Ottawa Police Chief Eric Stubbs said in a televised news conference that the family was found in a house after authorities responded to an emergency call shortly before 11pm local time (2am GMT Thursday) on Wednesday.

The husband of the 35-year-old mother killed in the attack was injured but survived and was taken to a hospital in stable condition. De-Zoysa was arrested at the scene.

Stubbs said an “edgy weapon” was used in the killings.

“This was a senseless act of violence against purely innocent people,” he said.

On social media, Ottawa Mayor Mark Sutcliffe called the attack “one of the most shocking incidents of violence in the history of our city.”

Mass murders are relatively rare in Canada, which has a population of just over 38 million. However, 2022 saw two prominent attacks. In December of that year, a man shot five people in a Toronto suburb before being fatally shot by police.

A few months earlier, in September, a man also stabbed 11 people to death in the western province of Saskatchewan. He died of a cocaine overdose shortly after his arrest.

The number of such attacks is much lower than in the US, which has a population of 331 million. In 2023, there were 42 mass murders, defined as incidents in which four or more victims were killed, according to Northeastern University’s mass murder database.

The number was the second highest in the US since 2006, the year the database began tracking mass killings. In 2019, there were 46 attacks, resulting in 234 victims.

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