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Barrhaven community gather in vigil as father recovers from mass killing

Mayor Sutcliffe paid respects to the family at a vigil Saturday afternoon. He called the event
Mayor Sutcliffe paid respects to the family at a vigil Saturday afternoon. He called the event

Over a hundred mourners gathered in a park in the Ottawa suburb of Barrhaven for a prayer vigil Saturday, to pay respects to the four young children, mother and family acquaintance who were killed last Wednesday in the worst mass killing in Ottawa's recent history.

Leaders of the Hilda Jayewardenaramaya Buddhist Monastery on Heron Road — where the family came for events and volunteered — led the vigil at Palmadeo Park in prayers, as community members looked on in the rain.

"May all people and everyone in this community, this country and in this world who were affected by this tragic event be free from suffering, be free from anger," said Bhanté Suneetha, a resident monk and director of the monastery.

Flowers, stuffed animals and balloons scattered the ground and picnic tables. Residents had begun the makeshift memorial shortly after the killings.

Darshani Dilanthika Ekanayake, 35, was killed along with her four young children — daughters Kelly, who was two months old; Ranaya, 3; and Ashwini, 4 — and son Inuka, 7.

Gamini Amarakoon, 40, was also killed. He was living with the family, police said.

Dhanushka Wickramasinghe, the father, is recovering from injuries in hospital.

'I know you're hurting, and we're hurting with you'

Naradha Kodituwakku, a community leader at the temple, thanked first responders, police and the city for their preparedness, and thanked the community for the outflow of support.

"I know you're hurting, and we're hurting with you," he said.

Marina von Stackelberg/CBC
Marina von Stackelberg/CBC

He said that Dhanushka, the father, is recovering and has given authority to the temple to handle the funeral service, which will happen at a later date.

Monastery leaders say the family had only been in Canada for about a year. Dhanushka, the father, arrived first in 2020 after completing his education and getting a work permit.

Last year, Ekanayake and their three children joined him. She was pregnant.

"You can see [the father] is still in shock," said Kodituwakku. "He sees the strength and that people are behind him. A gathering like this only makes him stronger."

Tragedy has 'profound impact' on community

Mayor Mark Sutcliffe and Nepean MPP Lisa MacLeod were among those in attendance, as was Barrhaven East Coun. Wilson Lo, who organized the vigil.

"I want the family to know that they're supported," Sutcliffe said.

Lo said it was important to gather.

"An event like this shatters what you think of your community," he said. "It's not going to be easy to recover from that."

"The size of the crowd shows that this had a profound impact on the community and the city."

Accused faces 6 murder charges

Febrio De-Zoysa, 19, is now facing six first-degree murder charges and one count of attempted murder.

De-Zoysa came to Canada from Sri Lanka as an international student, police said.

He was arrested at the home.