Days after a 39-year-old man was arrested for the shocking and seemingly random killings of two men in downtown Toronto and the discovery of an ‘arsenal’ of legally held firearms in his home, a profile online reveals new information about Richard Edwin, but no clues as to why the shooting took place.
Edwin has been charged with the first-degree murders of international student Kartik Vasudev, 21, and Elijah Eleazar Mahepath, 35, in separate early evening shootings three days apart. Police say they believe the pair are strangers to Edwin and witnesses say he didn’t speak to either of them before he quickly opened fire with a handgun and fled the scene. .
Police have not suggested a motive for the killings and Edwin’s limited online profile, which has been independently confirmed by the Star, reveals an interest in firearms and self-defense training, but little information about the motive.
Earlier this week, police said they were working to uncover more information about the man, who appears to have family ties to Ottawa and has no criminal record.
A Facebook account linked to Edwin, which is listed under a different name, appears to have been rarely used since 2017.
A profile picture of this account was confirmed by a neighbor. The star reporters separately confirmed the profile photographs observing a brief Zoom court appearance on Thursday morning.
The profile follows self-defense-related pages or groups, including an Atlanta-based group focused on guns, self-defense and survival; the “Toronto Tactical Action Close Combat College” which describes itself as providing firearms-focused martial arts training with airsoft guns; and a page devoted to armed and unarmed self-defense. The extent of the Facebook profile’s interaction with these pages is unclear.
Police said they found an “arsenal” of legally owned weapons, including handguns, loaded magazines, ammunition and rifles at Edwin’s home.
According to the police account, some of these weapons would have required a stricter license to possess restricted firearms.
It’s unclear if Edwin was a member of a shooting club or used any of the guns for target shooting – and the Facebook page doesn’t shed light on that.
Profile posts and likes also show interest in Africa, black history and racism.
The same person also appears to have written a 2017 brochure under the same name as the Facebook profile. This brochure expands on some of the topics covered in the profile, promotes the consumption of vegan foods, and references conspiracy theories about diseases and vaccines used to harm black people.
Although both victims were brown-skinned, police warned they had no evidence the killings were racially or hate-motivated. Toronto Police Homicides Det.-Sgt. Terry Browne said earlier this week he wouldn’t speculate on that, saying investigators don’t know if Edwin even had time or line of sight to see the skin color of his alleged victims.
“I wouldn’t want to speculate on whether someone was targeted because of their origin or ethnicity because we just don’t have that information,” he said.
In both shootings, witnesses told police there was no verbal communication “at all,” Browne said.
Edwin, 39, appeared in court by video Thursday morning for the third time since his arrest on Monday. During the brief appearance, he said he was still in the process of hiring a lawyer through Legal Aid Ontario and asked for a pen, paper and a calendar to keep notes to prepare his defense. .
Edwin allegedly shot Vasudev outside Sherbourne and Mahepath tube station on Dundas Street East, without speaking to them at all, and police said he was likely planning further attacks.
According to police and community members working nearby, Mahepath was walking westbound on the north side of Dundas, just east of George Street, when he was shot.
Howard Adams, president of Filmores Hotel at 212 Dundas St. East, said the shooting happened between the hotel building and the adjacent parking lot. “There is a city garbage recycling station there. It was right there,” he told the Star. “That’s where the blood pile is. They never cleaned it up.
Adams said he had security footage of the shooting and the fleeing suspect, which he provided to police.
A spokesperson for DE Condos Property Management, on the south side of Dundas Street East, across from the hotel, said the building’s security guard heard the gunshots around 7 p.m. The security guard had not heard or witnessed a confrontation prior to the shooting, the spokesperson told The Star.
Edwin lived in a red-brick Victorian house divided into several apartments on Spadina Road, less than four kilometers from the two shootings.
Benjamin Hannah, a neighbor who has known Edwin since moving into the building three years ago, told the Star that Edwin was “friendly” and could be talkative.
But Hannah said they didn’t know much about Edwin’s personal life, including whether he had a job. They knew Edwin had a big TV and noticed there were a lot of packages coming for him.
“(He was) a normal, everyday person. Not weird or sketchy, no real red flags, just really surprised that this happened,” Hannah said.
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