Details emerge about mass murder victims in Canada

  • Written by Nadine Youssef
  • BBC News, Toronto

Image source, AAPC Lawyers

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Dhanushka Wickramasinghe (far left) with his wife and four children

A Sri Lankan father who survived the mass killing of his family in Canada said he returned home from work on Wednesday to find that his wife and four children had been killed.

Dhanushka Wickramasinghe, 34, was also attacked but managed to subdue the suspect.

He is now recovering in hospital from an injury to his eye and one of his hands.

A 19-year-old Sri Lankan student who was living with his family was charged with murder.

New details of the night the Wickramasinghe family were killed emerged through a series of media interviews with Bhante Sunitha, the resident monk at a local Buddhist monastery in Ottawa that the family was attending.

Sunitha, who visited the father in hospital on Thursday, said he was “very shocked” by what happened.

Police in Ottawa discovered the dead family in their home in the suburb of Barrhaven after responding to emergency calls made at approximately 22:52 local time (03:52 GMT) on Wednesday.

The calls came after a man, later identified as Mr. Wickramasinghe, shouted to neighbors for help, said Eric Stubbs, chief of the Ottawa Police Service.

Officers then found the bodies of Mr. Wickramasinghe's wife, Darshani Dilanthika Ekanayake, 35, and their four young children: seven-year-old Inuka Wickramasinghe, four-year-old Ashwini Wickramasinghe, three-year-old Ranaya Wickramasinghe and Kelly Wickramasinghe. Two months old.

Police also found the body of Amarakoonmudiayansela Ge Gamini Amarakoon, 40, an acquaintance who lived with the family.

The Wickramasinghe family were newcomers to Canada. Narada Koditwako, former president of the Sri Lanka Canadian Association in Ottawa, told reporters they arrived last year.

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In an interview with CBC, Mr. Sunitha described them as good people who often helped out at the local temple.

“They are innocent and also very helpful people. It doesn't matter [who would ask] To get help from them,” he said.

Febrio De Zoysa, an international student from Sri Lanka, was arrested at home without incident and charged in connection with the murders, which police said were carried out using a “knife-like object”.

Algonquin College in Ottawa issued a statement to the media on Thursday confirming that Mr. de Zoysa was enrolled at their college, and that the last semester he would attend was winter 2023.

In a statement posted on Facebook, the Consulate General of Sri Lanka in Toronto expressed its condolences to the family and friends of the victims.

It also alerted parents of those studying abroad from Sri Lanka to “pay more attention to their children as they move and integrate” into a foreign country like Canada.

The police did not determine the motive behind the crime, saying that the family were “innocent victims” and that their investigations were continuing.

De Zoysa made his first court appearance in Ottawa on Thursday, where he was formally charged with six counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder.

A vigil for the family will be held on Saturday, and a GoFundMe campaign launched by the Buddhist Congress of Canada for Wickramasinghe has raised more than 53,000 Canadian dollars (US$39,300, £30,500) as of Friday afternoon.

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