Man charged in Toronto crossbow killings is a convicted bank robber

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The Toronto man facing three first-degree murder charges in the crossbow killings of a woman and her two adult sons had prior convictions for bank robbery.

Brett Ryan, 35, was arrested Thursday and made a brief court appearance Friday wearing handcuffs and a white plastic jumpsuit. He showed little emotion during the hearing, only nodding when his lawyer spoke to him.

Ryan will remain in custody until he returns to court on Sept. 2.

On Thursday, just before 1 p.m. ET, police responded to a call of a stabbing in the area of Lawndale Road and Knowlton Drive in the Scarborough area.

Scarborough crossbow killing

A woman and two of her adult sons were pronounced dead outside this Lawndale home Thursday. (Linda Ward/CBC)

There, officers found two men and a woman outside the home with life-threatening injuries. At least one victim was found on the driveway and two others were inside or near the garage. All three died at the scene.

Police said the victims had been injured from a crossbow bolt and that a crossbow was found at the crime scene.

CBC News has confirmed that Ryan was arrested in June 2008 and charged with 29 offences, including robbery and disguise with intent. The charges were in connection with a string of bank robberies that had police describing the perpetrator as “the fake beard bandit.”

In January 2009, Ryan pleaded guilty to eight counts of robbery and eight counts of disguise with intent. He was sentenced to three years and nine months in jail.

About to get married

About 18 months later, Ryan applied for bankruptcy, federal records show. He listed more than $60,000 in liabilities at the June 2010 hearing and $200 in assets.

It’s unclear whether Ryan attended the hearing himself or whether he was still in jail, as CBC News has not yet been able to access records from the Parole Board of Canada.

He had gotten engaged since his release from jail, according to both those who know his family and social media posts. He was scheduled to marry his girlfriend in three weeks.

brett ryan crossbow

Ryan was scheduled to be married in three weeks, according to social media posts and those who know his family. (Facebook/Canadian Press)

A man who lives across from the house where the triple homicide took place told CBC News that a man frantically pounded on his door Thursday shortly after 1 p.m. ET and asked him to call 911.

“He said, ‘Call 911, my brother is bleeding in the driveway,'” said the neighbour, who did not want to be named. The neighbour ran across the street and found a man lying in the driveway, covered in blood.

About four hours after the bodies were found Thursday, police said there was a link between the deaths and a suspicious package found in a downtown condo on Queen’s Quay. They said the downtown scene, which was near a building housing a daycare, was declared safe by 5 p.m.

Police said autopsies on the three victims were to take place Friday.

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Man charged in Toronto crossbow killings is a convicted bank robber

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