Victims in crossbow attack part of accused killer's family: police

Crossbow attack in Toronto led to the death of the mother and two brothers of the accused, Brett Ryan

TORONTO – The three victims of a bloody crossbow attack at a home in Toronto’s east end last week were the mother and two brothers of the accused, police said Tuesday.

Court records name the victims as Susan, Alexander and Christopher Ryan.

Brett Ryan, 35, has been charged with three counts of first-degree murder in the attack that stunned an east-end neighbourhood last Thursday.

His brother Christopher, 42, was a station collector for the Toronto Transit Commission, where he had been working for 12 years, the agency said in a statement Tuesday.

“On behalf of the entire TTC family, we offer our deepest condolences to Mr. Ryan’s family, friends and colleagues,” it said, adding flags will be lowered to half-mast in his honour.

Warren Dalton, who lives across the street from the home, said he was at home Thursday afternoon when one of Ryan’s brothers came to his door, covered in blood. Police have said that person was treated and released from hospital.

“I carried him half into the living room and he fell onto the floor and he said call 911, my brother is bleeding on the driveway,” Dalton said.

“Make sure the police come, make sure the police come.”

Police said they were called to a home for a report of a stabbing around 1 p.m. last Thursday.

They have since said the woman killed in the attack died from ligature strangulation, while one of the men died from a crossbow bolt stab wound to the neck and the other from a single arrowhead stab wound to the neck. They would not say whether the bolt and arrow were shot or used as handheld weapons.

The lead investigator on the case, Det. Sgt. Mike Carbone, said they were still trying to piece together a motive for the slayings and were asking for the public’s help for anyone who had contact with Ryan on Thursday morning before the killings took place.

On Tuesday, a Toronto judge lifted a publication ban on the victims’ identities. Ryan sat quietly in the prisoner’s box during the hearing.

Police also examined a waterfront apartment associated with Ryan last Thursday but found there was no threat to the public, they said.

Ryan had previously served time in connection with a string of bank robberies in Toronto and nearby Durham Region in which a man showed a teller a note indicating he was armed and demanded cash.

In 2008, he was arrested in the case of the Fake Beard Bandit and charged with a total of 29 counts of robbery, intent to commit a crime while disguised, and a weapons offence.

He pleaded guilty in 2009 to eight counts each of robbery and intent to commit an indictable offence while disguised. The remaining counts were withdrawn. He was sentenced to 45 months in prison — less seven months for pre-trial custody. The court also imposed a lifetime weapons ban.

Social media profiles show Ryan was engaged to a registered physiotherapist. They were to be married in Hamilton on Sept. 16.

The couple, according to their registry page, met three years ago on a blind date in downtown Toronto.

Ryan is set to appear in court again on Friday.

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