Eaton Centre shooting: Christopher Husbands guilty of 2nd-degree murder

Christopher Husbands has been found guilty of second-degree murder in the 2012 shooting at the busy Toronto Eaton Centre food court.

Sentencing hearing, victim impact statements set for January

Christopher Husbands was convicted of two counts of second-degree murder by a jury. (Alex Tavshunsky/CBC)

Christopher Husbands has been found guilty of second-degree murder in the 2012 shooting at the busy Toronto Eaton Centre food court.

A jury delivered the verdict Wednesday evening, shortly after asking for clarification on aspects of the charge of first-degree murder. In the end, they convicted Husbands of two counts of second-degree murder for the deaths of Ahmed Hassan and Nixon Nirmalendran,

Husbands fired 14 shots in the food court on June 2, 2012, sending hundreds fleeing. 

He was also found guilty of five counts of aggravated assault, one count of criminal negligence causing bodily harm and one count of reckless discharge of a firearm. 

Husbands, 25, is set to be sentenced in early January, at which time the judge will also hear several victim impact statements. He will serve an automatic life sentence for the conviction, and a judge could choose to order his parole eligibility be served consecutively — meaning it could be 50 years before he has a chance to get out.

"At that time the Crown will be seeking parole eligibilty in this case which will be a very lengthy time period considering the seriousness of the offences," said Crown lawyer Mary Humphrey.

Craig Stevenson, whose teenage son Connor was shot in the head amid the chaos, said he was happy with the verdict.

"We're exceptionally happy that they saw beyond the not criminally responsible," he said.

"We'll go home, close the chapter of this book, and move forward."

Others, including Hassan's father, were not as pleased with the result.

"It was clear to us that Chirstopher Husbands committed first-degree murder, but the jury didn't see that way ... It was very hard and excruciating time for us," he said.

Husbands said shooting wasn't intentional

Husbands admitted to fatally shooting the two men and wounding five others, but had pleaded not guilty to all charges against him, claiming he was not criminally responsible for the acts. 

Husbands testified he believed he was about to die just before he opened fire in the tourist-heavy shopping centre.

"I was afraid, I was panicking. I wasn't expecting to see these people. They just came out of nowhere," Husbands said, as he took the stand in his own defence.

"I was shocked. I was caught off guard."

The slain men had attacked Husbands months earlier, beating and stabbing him, before leaving him close to death.

An expert psychiatrist told court Husbands was suffering from post traumatic stress disorder at the time.

The Crown, meanwhile, argued Husbands opened fire at the mall because he was determined to get revenge on the men who had attacked him.

With files from The Canadian Press