The man who was shot dead in the Brampton courthouse Friday has been identified by Ontario’s special investigations unit as Charnjit Singh Bassi, a 45-year-old from Brampton. Court searches indicate he may have faced some criminal charges in the past, but staff at the Brampton courthouse said they could not immediately release the information.
Police shot and killed Mr. Bassi in the courthouse melee Friday after he allegedly turned a gun on Constable Mike Klarenbeek, a 29-year veteran of the Peel Regional Police. Witnesses say they heard a burst of gunshots exchanged from several directions, after the man tried to slip past metal detectors at the courthouse’s entrance. Constable Klarenbeek, a court security officer, was shot in the abdomen, but has been released from the intensive-care unit in hospital, and is “on the mend,” a Peel police spokeswoman said Sunday.
Members of Peel police’s tactical unit who were at the courthouse Friday were seen searching a silver Chrysler registered to a home on Flower Trail road in Brampton. Neighbours on the cul-de-sac identified the resident as their quiet neighbour who lived with his elderly mother and drove a silver sedan.
Mr. Bassi went through a divorce in 2009, according to a court search. Neighbours paint a picture of a man in his 40s who had lived in the house for about 10 years and was known as “Sunny.” He had a young daughter who they would often see playing outside, despite the fact that she no longer lived there. The man had separated from the girl’s mother a number of years ago, neighbours said.
Mr. Bassi was “peaceful,” neighbours say – describing him as a “family person” often seen caring for his elderly mother and young daughter.
Several neighbours said they were baffled Friday to find police cruisers parked outside and investigators combing through the house. Police, who did not say why they were searching the house, remained stationed outside until Saturday evening, they said. Questions remain about what the suspect was planning to do at the courthouse when he was stopped by police.
Fazil Satar, who lives on the same street, said that his neighbour was “always well-dressed and seemed to be a very decent fellow. I never saw him get angry with anyone at all.”
Another neighbour, who asked that his name not be used, said he last saw the man about a week ago shovelling snow outside the home. “He was a normal person. A family person. He was kind.”
And another neighbour, who also requested that his name not to be used, said he “would not have wanted a better neighbour. He was peaceful. He did not bother me. I could use his driveway, I could go in his backyard. My kids would play in his driveway or bang on his door, and he never would say anything.”
He said he and his neighbour would sometimes find themselves in conversations about religion and philosophy.
“Of late, he’s taken a different turn in the religious side. Very, very much so.” He said his neighbour appeared to have “turned towards religion in a big way” after separating from his daughter’s mother, and had been seeing a “personal guru.”
“That’s what makes it so baffling,” the neighbour said. “For someone so close to the spiritual side of life – there must be an explanation, which I don’t have. I don’t have the answer.”
With reports from Colin Freeze