Suspect held on murder charges after van speeds down Toronto footpath, killing 10 and injuring 15 -- but the motive remains elusive

  • A driver struck a crowd of pedestrians Monday after his van jumped onto a footpath from a busy intersection in Toronto.
  • Ten people were killed and 15 were injured, some in critical condition.
  • The suspect, who has been identified as 25-year-old Alek Minassian, has been arrested.
  • The incident appeared to be a deliberate attack, but the police have not commented on a possible motive.

A driver steered a van onto a footpath Monday from a busy intersection in Toronto and struck a crowd of pedestrians before eventually being taken into custody, the Canadian police said.

The Toronto police confirmed that 10 people were killed and 15 were injured.

The police have arrested Alek Minassian, a 25-year-old from Richmond Hill, Ontario, in connection to what authorities believe was a deliberate attack. He was taken into custody “without incident,” though video appeared to show a short, tense standoff with a lone police officer.

In a court hearing on Tuesday morning, a judge ordered Minassian be held on 10 counts of first degree murder and 13 counts of attempted murder. He didn’t enter a guilty or not-guilty plea, and his next court hearing will be on May 10, according to the Associated Press.

In a news conference on Monday evening, Chief Mark Saunders of the Toronto Police Service said the crash wasn’t an accident.

“The incident definitely looked deliberate,” Saunders said.

A witness, Phil Zullo, told The Canadian Press that he saw police officers arresting a man who had been driving a Ryder rental truck and saw people “strewn all over the road” where the incident occurred.

“It must have seen about five, six people being resuscitated by bystanders and by ambulance drivers,” Zullo said. “It was awful. Brutal.”

Motive unknown

Toronto attack vanCole Burston/Getty ImagesPolice officers inspecting the van at Yonge St. and Finch Ave. in Toronto on Monday. A suspect is in custody after the van collided with multiple pedestrians.

The police in Toronto, Canada’s most populous city, have not commented on or released a motive for the incident, which witnesses uniformly described as deliberate.

Minassian, the suspect who was arrested, lives in the Toronto suburbs and had not been known to the police previously, the Associated Press reports. Social-media profiles linked to Minassian offer little insight.

Former classmates described Minassian as being quiet, socially awkward, and good with computers but lacking any religious or political affiliation, according to The Globe and Mail.

The police have not connected the episode to terrorism, though rented trucks have been used to kill civilians in terrorist attacks in New York City and across Europe.

Monday’s incident occurred as Cabinet ministers from the major industrial countries were gathered in Canada to discuss a range of international issues in the run-up to the G-7 meeting scheduled to take place near Quebec City in June.

The world mourns

Anne Marie D’Amico was the first victim to be identified in Canadian press. She worked for Invesco, an investment management firm that had offices on Yonge Street, where the white van sped down during the attack.

The other two dozen victims haven’t been named yet.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed his sympathies for those involved.

“It was with great sadness that I heard about the tragic and senseless attack that took place in Toronto this afternoon,” Trudeau said in a statement. “On behalf of all Canadians, I offer my heartfelt condolences to the loved ones of those who were killed, and my thoughts for a fast and full recovery to those injured.”

“I thank the first responders at the scene who managed this extremely difficult situation with courage and professionalism,” he said. “They faced danger without hesitation, and their efforts no doubt saved lives and prevented further injuries.”

US Vice President Mike Pence tweeted that he and President Donald Trump were “closely monitoring the attack.”

“We are with the Canadian people tonight as they grieve the loss of life & injured,” Pence said. “The American people stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our neighbours in Canada.”

The Associated Press contributed reporting.

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