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Six dead, four of them children, in city’s worst mass killing

Four children and two adults were killed in the city’s worst-ever mass killing.

Good morning,

Horrible news out of Barrhaven this week, as we learned yesterday that six people, four of them young children, were killed in the city’s worst-ever episode of mass violence.

It’s hard to put into words the devastating effect of such violence. Half a dozen lives snuffed out, and uncountable others seismically altered, for reasons we still don’t know and may never understand.

I don't really know what else to say beyond that.

So let’s get to it.

— Robert Hiltz, managing editor.


Friday: +9 🌡️ 0 | ☀️

Saturday: +3 🌡️ +1 | 🌧

Sunday: +3 🌡️ -4 | 🌧/❄️

Monday: +4 🌡️ -6 | 🌤/❄️


Six dead, four of them children, in Barrhaven mass killing

Ottawa Police Stream/Screenshot

What happened: A mother, her four children, and another man were killed late Wednesday night in the worst mass killing in the city’s history. The children ranged in age from seven years old, to the youngest of two-and-a-half months old. The father of the victims was also injured in the attack, and was taken to hospital with serious injuries.

The father was heard by neighbours screaming in the Barrhaven street for someone to call 911. Police did not say whether he was home at the time of the attack, or returned in the wake of the deadly rampage. 

Police and paramedics arrived soon after to find him in the driveway, and entered the home to find the disturbing scene. They were able to arrest one suspect “without incident,” according to Police Chief Eric Stubbs.

The suspect: Nineteen-year-old Febrio De-Zoysa has been charged with six counts of first-degree murder, and one count of attempted murder. Stubbs said he is the only suspect in the killings. 

  • “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. Our investigators and forensic teams are working very hard to determine all of the facts and ensure justice is done,” Stubbs said.

Police said De-Zoysa was a student staying with the family. At this early stage, police were not able to say why the family was killed. Stubbs wouldn’t specify what kind of weapon was used, describing it as an “edged weapon” and “a knife-like object.”

The victims: Four children — a boy and three girls — their mother, and a guest of the house were all killed.*

  • Inuka Wickramasinghe, seven years old

  • Ashwini Wickramasinghe, four years old

  • Ranaya Wickramasinghe, two years old

  • Kelly Wickramasinghe, two months old

  • Banbaranayake Gama Walwwe Darshani Dilanthika Ekanayake, 35 years old

  • Gamini Amarakoon Amarakoon Mudiyanselage, 40

The husband, Dhanushka Wickramasinghe, was in hospital in serious but stable condition. The family were newcomers from Sri Lanka, authorities were working to contact their families abroad.

New details: Just days earlier, the family had thrown a 19th birthday party for the alleged killer, a religious leader told The Canadian Press. Balloons from the party could still be seen on the house’s back balcony, as investigators combed through the crime scene within.

Not a shooting: There was some confusion earlier in the day, after Stubbs said the killings were a mass shooting. He clarified at the afternoon press conference “To be clear, this was a mass killing, not a mass shooting.”

The vigil: Thursday evening, members of the community gathered at a vigil at Palmadeo Park, near where the victims lived. 

Speaking at an afternoon press conference, Mayor Mark Sutcliffe expressed his sorrow at the tragic events of the night before.

  • “To the family and neighbours and friends of those immediately affected by this tragedy, I want you to know that the entire City of Ottawa stands with you. And our thoughts and our prayers extend to each and every one of you during this extremely difficult time,” he said. “In the face of this grief and sadness and sorrow. Let's pull together as a community. Let's reach out to each other. Let's check in on each other. And let's support each other. It is in times of tragedy that we often see the very best in people. And I know that will be true in Barrhaven and throughout Ottawa in the hours and days ahead.”

Both he and Stubbs emphasized there was no wider threat to public safety. He also stressed how safe a community Ottawa is. 

  • “This news has shaken many residents throughout Ottawa. And of course, it's particularly troubling to neighbours and anyone living in Barrhaven. I know I speak for my colleagues … when I say that Barrhaven is a wonderful and rapidly growing community filled with warm and welcoming families and neighbours,” Sutcliffe said. “So it's hard to believe that something like this could happen there or anywhere else in our city.”

*Editor’s note: Due to incorrect information provided by police, some of the names of the victims were misspelled. The Lookout regrets the error.

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🏛️ 5%: Fearing a drop would overheat the spring housing market, the Bank of Canada kept its overnight lending rate at this level. [CBC]

🩸 150: The number of times Ottawa’s Floralove Katz has donated blood. She’s been donating for 50 years, and likely has saved hundreds of lives. [Ottawa Citizen]

📈 $651,340: The average price of a home sold in the city last month, up two percent from the same period last year. The number of homes sold was up 15.2 percent, for a total of 886, which was below the five- and 10-year average number of sales. [CTV]


🥙 Gatineau’s Palais de Shawarma plans to change its name as soon as next week, after Ottawa’s Shawarma Palace filed a lawsuit alleging trademark infringement. [CTV]

🏢 The city will convert office space in a building on Queen Street to transitional housing, with a focus on getting asylum seekers into homes. The plan will cost about $6 million, and will have spaces for 130 people. [CBC]

🛢️ Students at uOttawa held a protest at the campus RBC branch, demanding the country’s largest bank divest itself from fossil fuel holdings. The protest was one of about a dozen held on Canadian campuses this week. [CTV]

🥵 For the first time in recorded history, Ottawa stayed above -20 C for the whole of meteorological winter. [Rolf Campbell/Twitter]

🏎️ Local kids are getting first-hand knowledge about the city’s culture of speeding, as a safety course gives them radar guns to measure drivers’ speeds out front of their schools. At one recent course, students caught a driver going more than 20 km/h over the speed limit in a school zone. [CBC]

⚖️ A judge will allow arguments to go forward that convoy organizers Tamara Lich and Chris Barber were co-conspirators working together during the protest. The trial of the two convoy leaders is ongoing. [The Canadian Press]

☘️ For the fifth straight year, there will be no St. Patrick’s Day parade in the city. Organziers said they were unable to get a parade permit because police resources would be used elsewhere; the city said the application for a permit was received late. [CTV]

⛴️ The Quyon Ferry started operations early this year, as warm temperatures and limited freezing opened the Ottawa River up early. Typically, the ferry can’t start running for another few weeks. [CBC]

🦷 Seniors who have dental insurance from their pension plan, or have private insurance, aren’t eligible for the new national dental care program, except under very specific circumstances. The federal government said the plan is meant to fill in the gaps in coverage, not replace those with existing insurance. [CBC]

🚂 A VIA Rail train going between Toronto and Montreal was forced to stop near Cornwall because of an engine fire. No one was injured, but multiple trains were delayed. [CBC]


What to do this weekend

📚 Local Authors Sundays, Sunday 11:30 am: Local authors Don Butler and Kate Heartfield will be at Westboro Books to talk about their writing, sign books, and answer questions from readers. At Westboro Books, 214 Richmond Rd. Free!

🍻 ByWard Beerfest, Friday and Saturday: Celebrate local beer culture with Lowertown Brewery, with an event of food, beer, and live music. At Lowertown Brewery, 73 York St. Tickets $7.

🧑‍🎤 Pique Spring Edition 2024, Friday to Sunday: The music and arts festival celebrating all sorts of artistic modes, from painting to performance art. At Arts Court 67 Nicholas St. Tickets $32.

👩‍🎨 Abstract Sip & Paint, Friday 5:30 pm and 8 pm: Two slots to try your hand at abstract painting, with an artist as your guide. All materials provided. At Drip House, 340B Parkdale Ave. Tickets $39.

🥚 Pysanka Workshop, Sunday 12 pm: Learn how to paint traditional Pysanka. Materials provided, and you can take home your painted egg. In support of the Ukrainian Women's Association of Canada. At 1000 Byron Ave. Tickets $44.

☘️ Ottawa Irish Arts St Patrick's Céilí (Dance), Sunday 2 pm: Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with traditional Irish music and dancing. At St Brigid's Centre for the Arts, 310 Saint Patrick St. Tickets $17.

🎻 Gates of Heaven - Requiem for a Life of Peace, Sunday 2:30 pm: OperOttawa presents the world premier of Requiem, written for female voices. Plus a performance of Exultate Jubilate by Mozart, sung by Ania Hejnar. At First Baptist Church, 140 Laurier Ave. W. Tickets $28.

🎨 Art Battle Ottawa, Friday 7 pm: Several artists will start with a blank canvas and battle each other through three 20-minute rounds to be declared the winner at the Ottawa Art Gallery. All art will be available by silent auction. Tickets start at $24.

  • Tick season may be starting early, here’s how you can be prepared. [CTV]

  • Elevate your wine game with Third Place Wine, a tailored newsletter for wine enthusiasts. Discover your new favorite wine today – sign up for free! [Sponsored]

  • Is Ottawa the shawarma capital of Canada? City council will vote to declare itself that next month. [CBC]

  • Are these your keys? Someone found them off Piperville Road. [Reddit]

  • Please don’t do this! A driver was spotted going the wrong way down (up?) the Kichi Zibi Mikan. [Reddit]

  • Want to have your announcement featured? Learn how here.


The week in food

Ralf Joneikies/Ottawa Lookout

🍝 (Insiders) At long last, our editor has narrowed down the list, and chosen the city’s best fresh pasta.

🥃 (Insiders) This whiskey is made locally, and it’s excellent. You may want to stock up.

🥪 (Insiders) Everyone loves a good sandwich. So it’s great news the Sandwich Safari has returned for a new exploration of some of the best finds between two slices of bread our city has to offer.

🍽️ This one strip mall on Bank Street south has you covered for lunch, dinner, and even dessert.

Want to subscribe so you don’t miss any of these stories? Click here to instantly subscribe to Capital Eats, our Ottawa food newsletter. 


Congrats to Dave and Dorothy, who both knew that this week’s Ottawa Wordle was of Commissioner Street just south of LeBreton Flats.

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