Ottawa

'A whole family ripped apart': Mourners gather to remember victims of Ottawa mass killing

Some 200 people showed up at a public multi-faith funeral service in Ottawa Sunday to mourn the six people killed more than a week ago in the city's Barrhaven suburb.

4 children, 2 adults killed inside suburban townhouse earlier this month

People attending a funeral service look at several framed photos on a table, next to a large bouquet of flowers.
People pay their respects at a funeral service held March 17, 2024, for the victims of a mass killing at a home in Ottawa's Barrhaven suburb earlier in the month. A woman, her four young children and a family friend died in the attack. (Patrick Doyle/The Canadian Press)

Some 200 people showed up at a public multi-faith funeral service in Ottawa Sunday to mourn the six people killed more than a week ago in the city's Barrhaven suburb.

Organized by the Buddhist Congress of Canada (BCC), the service at the Infinity Convention Centre paid tribute to the victims: a family of newcomers to Canada from Sri Lanka and their friend.

According to police, four children and two adults were killed inside a suburban townhouse in south Ottawa on March 6.

Darshani Dilanthika Ekanayake, 35, was killed along with her three daughters — three-year-old Ranaya, four-year-old Ashwini, and two-month-old Kelly — and her seven-year-old son Inuka.

The body of a family friend, 40-year-old Gamini Amarakoon, who'd recently arrived in Canada from Sri Lanka, was also found at the scene.

Dhanushka Wickramasinghe, the family's father, survived the attack. He was injured with an edged weapon and taken to hospital.

A family of six, with an older man on the right followed by three young daughters, a son and a mother.
The Wickramasinghe family at daughter Ranaya's third birthday party earlier this month. From left: father Dhanushka Wickramasinghe; two-month-old daughter Kelly; daughters Ashwini, 4, and Ranaya, 3; son Inuka, 7; and mother Darshani Dilanthika Ekanayake, 35. (Facebook)

Buddhist monks from Toronto and Ottawa led prayers and performed traditional funeral customs at Sunday's service.

They also thanked Ottawa's first responders for their work.

Wickramasinghe was in attendance, but did not deliver any remarks or speak to media.

Instead, he issued a statement afterward in which he thanked various groups — including first responders, the hospital, the BCC and the wider Sri Lankan community — for helping him deal with the "shock and chaos" in the wake of the killings.

He also said he was "devastated and torn" by the deaths of his wife, children and good friend.

"This tragedy has shaken me and my family deeply ... I extend my heartfelt gratitude to the public for their thoughts and prayers as I navigate through the aftermath of this tragedy," he wrote.

WATCH | Buddhist prayer opens Sunday's funeral:  

Buddhist prayer opens Ottawa funeral for mass killing victims

2 months ago
Duration 1:56
The Buddhist Congress of Canada held a public multi-faith funeral service in Ottawa to pay tribute to a family of newcomers to Canada from Sri Lanka and their friend who were killed in the Barrhaven suburb.

In a video message played at the funeral, Dishani Asangika Fernando, Amarakoon's wife, thanked him for being "a lovely husband [and] an amazing father all the time."

"I have a lot to tell, but right now I am speechless," she said. 

"You [came here] to give a good future for our kids. But all our dreams just faded away in a way we never thought of."

'We are still devastated'

Before the funeral, BCC president Naradha Kodituwakku told CBC News Network the tragedy is deeply affecting Sri Lankan and immigrant families in Barrhaven.

"For them to come here and have their life ended in such a short term ... we were devastated. We are still devastated," Kodituwakku said.

Pradeep Balasubramanian, who is Sri Lankan and lives in Toronto, came to the funeral to pass on a message from his family to Wickramasinghe and his relatives.

"Get well soon, and we will be with them always," Balasubramanian said.

A man wearing a black leather jacket with a black beard looks into the camera.
Pradeep Balasubramanian, who is Sri Lankan, came from Toronto to attend the public funeral. He wanted to pass on a message of support to Wickramasinghe, who survived the attack, and his relatives. (Safiyah Marhnouj/CBC)

'Your community is with you,' says mayor

Bhagya Jayaweera said she's been following the news since the killings happened, but standing in front of the hearses for the victims "made it very, very real."

Jayaweera said she wanted to pay her respects and offer peace to the victims' souls.

"A whole family ripped apart ... their father was taken away from them. I can't imagine," she said.

Several Canadian dignitaries spoke at the funeral, including Liberal MPs Gary Anandasangaree and Chandra Arya, Progressive Conservative MPP Lisa MacLeod and Ottawa Mayor Mark Sutcliffe.

"I want you to know your community is with you," Sutcliffe told the victims' families. "We must pull together as a community in a time like this.

"There are more difficult days ahead. This will be an unimaginable time for these families in the days and weeks and months ahead ... we will honour the memories of your family members."

Two men walk by a group of Buddhist monks. The men are wearing white shirts, and the one on the right has a cast on his ring finger.
Dhanushka Wickramasinghe, right, takes part in Sunday's funeral service. Wickramasinghe survived the attack that led to the deaths of his wife, their four young children and a family friend. (Patrick Doyle/The Canadian Press)

Suspect in protective custody, lawyer says

Febrio De-Zoysa, 19, has been charged with six counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder.

De-Zoysa was living with the family when he allegedly killed them late at night. He was also a former student at Algonquin College.

A court sketch of a man wearing a light blue shirt with buzzed hair.
A court sketch of 19-year-old Febrio De-Zoysa, who has been charged with six counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder. (Lauren Foster-MacLeod)

His lawyer, Ewan Lyttle, told reporters on Thursday that De-Zoysa is in protective custody due to the seriousness of the charges against him, 

Lyttle said Thursday it was too early to talk about a mental health assessment.

None of the charges against De-Zoysa have been proven and court has not heard any evidence surrounding the circumstances of the crimes.

De-Zoysa is expected back in court on March 28.

WATCH | Ottawa's Sri-Lankan community rallies around father at funeral: 

Ottawa mass killing victims mourned by hundreds at funeral

2 months ago
Duration 2:02
Hundreds of people mourned the six victims of a mass killing in Ottawa at a funeral held Sunday. Among the mourners was the lone survivor of the attack — the father of the four youngest victims.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Benjamin Lopez Steven is a reporter and part-time writer for CBC News Network. He's also a recent journalism graduate from Carleton University. You can reach him at benjamin.steven@cbc.ca or find him on Twitter at @bensteven_s.

With files from Safiyah Marhnouj, J.P. Tasker and CBC News Network