World

4 Children and 2 Adults Are Killed in Ottawa Home

A mother from Sri Lanka and her four children were stabbed to death in a home in Ottawa by a student who is also from Sri Lanka, the police said on Thursday. Another man living in the home was also killed.

Investigators charged Febrio De-Zoysa, 19, an acquaintance who also lived in the home, with six counts of first degree murder and one count of attempted murder. He was arrested shortly after the police received two emergency calls around 11 p.m. Wednesday to the home in a residential neighborhood, the police said.

Ottawa’s police chief, Eric Stubbs, said at a news conference that the stabbings were the largest mass killing in the city, Canada’s capital, in at least three decades.

“I want to emphasize this was a senseless act of violence perpetrated on purely innocent people,” Chief Stubbs said. “I know our whole community is shocked and mourning this event.”

The victims were identified as Darshani Banbaranayake Gama Walwwe Darshani Dilanthika Ekanyake, 35, the mother of the four children killed; Inuka Wickramasinghe, a 7-year-old boy; Ashwini Wickramasinghe, a 4-year-old girl; Rinyana Wickramasinghe, a 2-year-old girl; and Kelly Wickramasinghe, a 2-month-old girl.

The children’s father was seriously injured in the attack and was in stable condition at a local hospital. He was seen on the street shortly after the violence, yelling out for someone to call 911, the police said. Police did not name the father but he is identified as Dhanushka Wickramasinghe in court documents.

The sixth person killed, Amarakoonmubiayansela Ge Gamini Amarakoon, 40, was an acquaintance who had also arrived from Sri Lanka and was living with the family.

The police said they believed the victims were killed with “an edged weapon” but would not provide any more details. Two police SUVs remained parked at the home nearly a full day after the killings, and the chief said it would take several days to process the scene.

Shanti Ramesh, a neighbor, said she saw about 15 police cruisers rush to the home on Wednesday night.

Ms. Ramesh watched as investigators began rolling out yellow crime scene tape in front of the home. She went to bed thinking the scene would be cleared up overnight.

“But when I saw the news in the morning, it was a shock that such a big tragedy happened in our city and just across my house,” she said, adding that she did not know the family who lived there.

Mass killings are rare in Canada, where the homicide rate in 2022 was about 2.3 killings per 100,000 people, about one-third of the rate in the United States that year.

There were 874 murders in Canada in 2022, according to the latest data from the census agency, an eight percent rise in the country’s homicide rate, and the fourth year of consecutive increases.

Mark Sutcliffe, Ottawa’s mayor, offered his condolences to the family.

“We are fortunate to live in a safe city where these events are extremely rare,” he said at the news conference. “Everyone, understandably, will react to this news today and feel less safe and secure.”