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Memorial grows for mother, 4 children and family acquaintance killed in Ottawa

Dozens of stuffed animals, flowers and candles have been placed at a memorial in a Barrhaven park in memory of a mother, her four young children and a family acquaintance killed at their family home this week.

As Ottawa police continue to investigate the worst mass killing in the city’s history, the community is mourning the deaths and struggling to understand what happened.

“I feel so sad for the tragedy that happened,” said one woman at the memorial. “It’s heartbreaking, as a mother, to see four young children taken away.”

“It’s shocking because I’m a father of four here in this neighbourhood,” said a man at the vigil.  “It’s shocking, I can’t believe it.”

A vigil has been established at Palmadeo Park, at the corner of Palmadeo Drive and Rodeo Drive, in memory of the six victims. A candlelight vigil will be held for the victims on Saturday at 11 a.m. in the park.

On Wednesday, officers responding to a 911 call found the bodies of six people inside the home. The suspect was arrested inside the house without incident.

The victims have been identified as 35-year-old Darshani Banbaranayake Gama Walwwe Darshani Dilanthika Ekanyake and her four children – Kelly, Rinyana, Ashwini and Inuka.  A family acquaintance, 40-year-old Amarakoonmubiayansela Ge Gamini Amarakoon, was also found deceased at the home.

Police say the family were newcomers to Canada from Sri Lanka.

The Wickramasinghe family is pictured here in this undated image. The four young children and their mother were killed in their Ottawa home on March 6, 2024 alongside a family friend. The father was seriously injured in the attack. A 19-year-old suspect is in custody and is facing multiple counts of first-degree murder.

Court documents identify the surviving father as Dhanushka Wickramasinghe.

The father is in “great shock,” Bhante Suneetha, resident monk at the Hilda Jayewardenaramaya Buddhist Monastery, told The Canadian Press.

Suneetha, who visited the father on Thursday in hospital, said he was attacked while returning home from his evening cleaning job.

Ottawa Police Chief Eric Stubbs says investigators continue to look into what happened inside the home Wednesday night.

“The team has got a plan and they’re going to dig in deeper to a lot of those different relationships,” Stubbs told Newstalk 580 CFRA’s The Morning Rush with Bill Carroll Friday morning.

“We certainly have a fairly good idea of sort of the dynamics of what was going on, but still more work to go.”

Dhanushka Wickramasinghe continues to recover in hospital. Stubbs says investigators will make sure “we don’t push him” as part of the investigation.

“We manage him as best as we can so he’s comfortable in talking and explaining everything on his time, because, obviously, he’s absorbing a lot of physical and mental injuries and we want to make sure his care and his wellness is number one.”

A moment of silence for the victims was held at Ottawa City Hall before the International Women’s Day event.

“To the family, neighbours and friends, I want to say that all the people of Ottawa are with you, we stand with you,” Mayor Mark Sutcliffe said Friday morning. “Our thoughts and prayers extend to you during this very, very difficult time.”

Suspect appears in court

The suspect made a brief court appearance on Thursday, and is scheduled to appear in court again next week.

Febrio De-Zoysa, 19, is facing six counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder. He cannot have contact with five people, including the surviving husband and father.

Police say De-Zoysa is a Sri Lankan national who came to Canada to study as an international student. A spokesperson for Algonquin College told CTV News Ottawa he attended classes at the Ottawa college, “It appears that his last semester of attendance was Winter 2023.”

With files from The Canadian Press

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