What happened at the Barrhaven killings, according to the father's friend and local monk – Ottawa Citizen

“When he opened the door, the guy behind him hit him on the head and that’s where he got his cuts.”
Lying in a hospital bed nursing physical wounds and unimaginable mental trauma, Dhanushka Wickramasinghe is trying to come to terms with the horrifying deaths of his young family and a good friend.

“He is still in the shock level,” said Bhanthe Sumanarathana, a friend and resident monk at the Hilda Jayewardenaramaya Buddhist Monastery, who visited Wickramasinghe on Thursday. “I can feel it when he’s talking. He has like a dizzy mind. He can’t imagine the things that happened. It’s like a dream to him.”
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The biggest mass killing in Ottawa’s recent history occurred late Wednesday at the Barrhaven townhouse the family was renting.

On Thursday, Ottawa police charged 19-year-old Febrio De-Zoysa with six counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder. He made a court appearance later that day and was scheduled to reappear in court on March 14.

Wickramasinghe lost his wife, Darshani Dilanthika Ekanyake; seven-year-old son, Inuka; four-year-old daughter, Ashwini; three-year-old daughter Ranaya, and two-month-old daughter, Kelly; along with 40-year-old Gamini Amarakoon, a family friend.

De-Zoysa was also living with the family. Sumanarathana said the family was not charging him rent.

“They gave him accommodation free of charge. They helped him celebrate his 19th birthday. They bought him cake and had a lot of sympathy for him.”

Nothing could have prepared Wickramasinghe for what happened when he arrived home around 10:30 p.m. Wednesday.

According to Sumanarathana, Wickramasinghe told him “that guy was close to the garage door with a knife.”

Wickramasinghe asked about his family and was told everyone was safe upstairs.

Wickramasinghe had his doubts. “When he opened the door, the guy behind him hit him on the head and that’s where he got his cuts,” Sumanarathana said. “He went into the house and saw the bodies (of his family) and moved to the other room to check on his friend.”

Wickramasinghe, according to Sumanarathana, locked himself in a room and called 9-1-1. Police arrived at 10:52 p.m.

Ottawa Police Service Chief Eric Stubbs said Friday that the investigation was continuing.

“We know there are a lot of questions about why this tragedy occurred, this is the focus of our Homicide Unit as they diligently investigate this tragic crime,” Stubbs said. “Our investigators are forensic teams are working very hard to determine all the facts and ensure justice is done.”

It’s all remarkably tragic for Wickramasinghe, who began his pursuit of the Canadian dream in the summer of 2021.

He left Kanty, a city of 130,000 in central Sri Lanka, coming to Ottawa on a student visa. Wickramasinghe, who had been working with a mobile phone company in Kanty, enrolled in marketing and management courses at Algonquin College.

He arrived without his young family, at first living in Gloucester.

“He’s a real nice person,” Sumanarathana said. “He’s very friendly and helpful. He comes to temple twice a week, and sometimes we call him to help us with some things around here (at the monastery).”

He has two jobs, running his own small house-cleaning company and serving as an Uber driver.

Last July, the family joined him in Ottawa, all of them moving into the townhouse on Berrigan Drive.

Inuka and Ashwini attended Monsignor Paul Baxter School on Beatrice Drive, a five-minute walk from the house. The youngest daughter, Kelly, was born in Ottawa.

Halal Ahmed, a Barrhaven-based accountant, said Wickramasinghe reached out to him in February to help him with his taxes.

“We’ve never met in person,” Ahmed said. “But we exchanged a number of emails, just making sure he had all the right paperwork. He owns the small business. He’s the sole proprietor.”

Ahmed said the whole story was “very disturbing.”

The Sri Lankan community in Ottawa is a close-knit group and it is banding together to provide as much help as possible.

“The family was very close to us,” Sumanathana said. “The Buddhist temple and the Sri Lanka High Commission are doing what we can to help those people. We’ve already organized a GoFundMe to help fund the victims’ families.”

Wickramasinghe will soon be joined by family members from Sri Lanka as he grieves the loss of his wife and their four children.

Minister Counsellor Lashinka Dammullage of the Sri Lankan High Commission in Ottawa said Friday that visas would be expedited for Wickramasinghe’s father and brother.

“He needs the assistance of his close family members,” she said in an interview. “That would make him more mentally stable. That is what the father needs right now.”

The Sri Lankan High Commission is working closely with the Canadian High Commission in Colombo, Sri Lanka, and the family members should be cleared to travel to Canada within a few days, Dammullage said.

Wickramasinghe has requested his wife and children be buried in Canada, she said, but funeral details have not yet been established due to the ongoing police investigation.

Family of Amarakoon, who was living with the family on Berrigan Drive, have requested that his body be repatriated, Dammullage said. Family of the accused, also a Sri Lankan national, have not been in contact with the high commission as of Friday, she added.

The landlord of the home where the gruesome mass killing occurred, meanwhile, said he had no idea the suspect, De-Soyza, was living there.

Harpreet Chhabra said the family had been leasing from him since last June or July, and he didn’t know that the couple had recently had a new baby, nor that there were others living in the house.

Chhabra said he first received a call from police about what happened while he was at the airport on Thursday at around 9 a.m.

“I was shocked,” he said in an interview Friday. “My heart goes out to them.”

A vigil is scheduled at Palmadeo Park in Barrhaven at 11 a.m. on Saturday.

The GoFundMe fundraiser for the victims had raised nearly $116,000 as of 6:45 p.m. on Saturday.

The social media accounts of De-Zoysa have been scrubbed, including his YouTube account, where he was known for posting videos of the video game Minecraft.

“Following the tragic attack in Ottawa, our Trust and Safety team identified and terminated a YouTube channel associated with the suspect in accordance with our creator responsibility guidelines,” a spokesperson for Google, which owns YouTube, said via email, adding that all YouTubers must follow the site’s community guidelines and, “if a user’s off-platform behaviour harms the YouTube community, we may take action.”

A spokesperson for Algonquin College confirmed that De-Zoysa had been a student there and his last semester of attendance had been in winter 2023.

With files from The Canadian Press.

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