Toronto Judge Detains Van Driver on Murder Charge for Killing 10

The driver of the van has been taken into custody. The motive behind the act remains unclear as of yet.

Updated
World
4 min read

Video Editor: Vivek Gupta

A judge in Canada has ordered the 25-year-old man suspected of plowing a van into pedestrians in north Toronto to be detained on 10 counts of first-degree murder and 13 of attempted murder.

The accused deliberately plowed his white Ryder rental van into a lunch-hour crowd in Toronto on Monday, 23 April, killing 10 people and injuring 15 along a roughly mile-long (1.6-km) stretch of sidewalk thronged with pedestrians, police said.

The incident – which Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called a "tragic and senseless attack" – was one of the most violent in recent Canadian history.

Toronto Police chief Mark Saunders identified the suspect as Alek Minassian, 25, who he said had not previously been known to authorities.

Minassian attended a high school programme for students with special needs where he would often walk the halls with his head down and hands tightly clasped, according to former classmates.

"The actions definitely looked deliberate," Saunders told a late-night news conference close to the site of the incident in the northern section of Canada's biggest city, noting the van had been driven along sidewalks.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corp, citing government officials, said Minassian was not associated with any organised militant group.

Federal Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, standing next to Saunders, said: "There would appear to be no national security connections."

The driver steered his vehicle toward people just before 1:30 pm (1730 GMT). A Reuters witness saw at least two tarp-covered bodies at the site of the incident.

The CBC aired a video it said was shot by a bystander that showed police arresting a suspect at the scene as he shouted: "Kill me" and pointed an unidentified object at an officer. The video later showed what appeared to be the same man lying down, being handcuffed.

Ryder System Inc spokeswoman Claudia Panfil confirmed that one of the company's rental vehicles had been involved and said the company was cooperating with authorities.

Toronto Police Officer Draws Praise for Refusing to Shoot Van Suspect

A Toronto police officer, who refused to shoot the man suspected was praised for restraint in the face of a suspect who claimed to have a gun. A video of the incident has made its way online:

Video footage showed the police officer staring down the suspect at gunpoint in the middle of a street, while the man pointed what appeared to be a gun and shouted "Kill me." The video, obtained by CBC News, showed the suspect repeatedly pulling an object from his side and aiming at police.

The arrest was praised as a welcome example of police restraint in the midst of chaos, coming just minutes after a white rental van plowed into a lunchtime crowd in north Toronto, killing 10 people and injuring 15 in one of the most violent incidents in Canadian history.

As the suspect shouted "Kill me," the officer replied, "No, get down." When the suspect said, "I have a gun in my pocket," the officer responded: "I don't care. Get down."

There has been a string of deadly vehicle attacks in the United States and Europe, including an 31 October attack in New York that killed eight. The Islamic State militant group encourages its supporters to use vehicles for attacks.

The tragedy in Toronto struck as Canada was still shaken by a highway crash in Saskatchewan earlier this month that took the lives of 16 people on a bus carrying a junior hockey team.

Tragic and Senseless Attack: Trudeau

"It was with great sadness that I heard about the tragic and senseless attack that took place inToronto this afternoon," Trudeau said in a statement. "We should all feel safe walking in our cities and communities."

Last month, a former Canadian university student pleaded guilty to killing six men praying in a Quebec City mosque in January 2017.

In September, a Somali refugee was charged with attempted murder over allegations he ran down four pedestrians with a car and stabbed a police officer outside a sports stadium in Edmonton, Alberta.

A man who gave his name as Ali told CNN he saw the van and that the driver appeared to have been targeting people.

This person was intentionally doing this, he was killing everybody. “He kept going, he kept going. People were getting hit, one after another.
Ali, Eyewitness

He said a number of the victims were older people and that he saw at one point a stroller fly into the air.

At least one person was struck outside an Anglican church, north of where the van came to rest in front of a condominium tower.

‘It’s Unprecedented’

The incident was one of the most violent in recent Canadian history.

"It's unprecedented," said John Flengas, acting superintendent in the city's paramedic services. “We've never seen anything like this in the city of Toronto."

The driver of the van has been taken into custody. The motive behind the act remains unclear as of yet.
The driver of the van has been taken into custody. The motive behind the act remains unclear as of yet.
(Photo: AP)

Some of the victims were struck in a public square popular with office workers on lunch breaks. Aerial photos of the scene posted on social media showed a food truck parked just a few feet away from where emergency workers busily transferred people onto stretchers.

There was no noticeable change in security around the Intercontinental Hotel where the ministers of Canada, the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, and Japan were meeting on Monday.

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