Toronto shootings: two died at mosque while praying, family says

29-year-old Joshua Yasay, 25-year-old Chen-Chang Liu shot inside Masjid Al-Hijrah while praying

The two men who were shot dead Sunday during a robbery attempt inside a Toronto mosque have been identified by family members as an imam and his assistant.

Jospeh Yasay and Chen-Chang Liu were taken to hospital shortly after they were shot multiple times. Both died a short time later.

“He was a wonderful man,” Rabbi David Tatarsky said of Liu in a statement. “He had a gentle and soft-spoken spirit that was touched by love and kindness. He will be deeply missed.”

Police said a 29-year-old man was arrested at the scene, where more than 100 people were praying.

Jospeh Yasay was the imam at Masjid Al-Hijrah, a small suburban mosque that “opened its doors for immigrants and refugees from around the world,” according to a statement posted on Facebook on behalf of the community.

“We have lost a gentle friend, a compassionate elder. It will never be the same,” the statement said.

Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne said in a statement she was “saddened and outraged” by the violence, expressing condolences to the families and friends of the victims.

The Toronto police chief Mark Saunders said the shooting was an “extremely violent, highly-premeditated” attack and that they were “actively pursuing all possible motives”.

No further details have been released about the suspect or the motive for the shootings.

The mosque also urged people to refrain from speculation. “As we grieve, we implore you to keep all of our people in your prayers,” it said in a statement.

Police at the scene said they were working with the victims’ families to provide support and ensure a peaceful weekend.

Toronto has recorded three deadly shootings at houses of worship since August, including a shooting outside a mosque in October that left two people dead and 11 wounded.

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