Toronto Van Attack: Suspect Identified As Death Toll Rises To 10

Posted: Apr 23, 2018 9:03 PM
Toronto Van Attack: Suspect Identified As Death Toll Rises To 10

As Cortney wrote earlier today, terror struck the streets of Toronto, Canada. Score of people were injured when a Ryder van plowed through crowds at lunchtime. Police arrested the suspect. He’s been identified as 25-year-old Alek Minassian (via Fox News):

"We don’t rule out anything," Toronto Police Service Chief Mark Saunders said in a Monday evening press conference. "We need to follow what we have.

"Based on witness accounts, its very clear the actions definitely looked deliberate," Saunders said.

After striking the pedestrians, the driver sped off, CBC reported. Witnesses said the driver was moving fast and appeared to be acting deliberately. Photos from the site of the collision showed pedestrians attempting to help people on the ground and multiple bodies covered by sheets.

This comes as a tenth person succumbed to injuries. The death toll now stands at 10, with 15 injured. The attack occurred around 1:30 P.M. (via CBS News):

Toronto Police Services Deputy Chief Peter Yuen released no details about the investigation as he announced the casualties.

Yuen said police were still interviewing witnesses and examining surveillance video of the incident as part of what he called a "complex" investigation.

"I can assure the public all our available resources have been brought in to investigate this tragic situation," he said.

The 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 G7 meeting near Quebec City in June. The driver was heading south on busy Yonge Street around 1:30 p.m. and the streets were crowded with people enjoying an unseasonably warm day when the van jumped onto the sidewalk.

Cellphone video showed bystanders frantically giving CPR to victims moments after the van struck pedestrians. Witnesses said the plowed into dozens of pedestrians at 40 mph, leaving a trail of destruction.

Ali Shaker, who was driving near the van at the time, told Canadian broadcast outlet CP24 that the driver appeared to be moving deliberately through the crowd at more than 30 mph.

"He just went on the sidewalk," a distraught Shaker said. "He just started hitting everybody, man. He hit every single person on the sidewalk. Anybody in his way he would hit."

At the time, Minassian was not named, but the account of his surrender to police was reported by The New York Times:

“Get down or you’ll be shot,” the officers warned him in a scene captured on video.

“Shoot me in the head,” the driver said.

Nearby, the bodies of the dead and injured, some covered by orange tarps, lay on a broad, tree-lined sidewalk that was scattered with debris, including a child’s stroller.

Canada’s public safety minister, Ralph Goodale, said, “We cannot come to any firm conclusions at this stage.” But whatever lay behind the carnage, it was reminiscent of deadly attacks using vehicles that have shaken up Nice, France, Berlin, Barcelona, London and New York.

The Associated Press reported that this investigation has not been turned over to the Canadian Mountain Police, which they say is a sign that authorities don’t think this attack was related to terrorism. Then again, we’ll see what happens: 

Speaking at a news conference Monday night, Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders raised the initial death toll of nine to 10, saying another victim had died at a hospital. He said 15 others were hospitalized.

Saunders identified the man detained after the incident as Alek Minassian, 25, a resident of the Toronto suburb of Richmond Hill. He said the suspect had not been known to police previously.

Asked if there was any evidence of a connection to international terrorism, the chief said only, “Based on what we have there’s nothing that has it to compromise the national security at this time.”

But a senior national government official said earlier that authorities had not turned over the investigation to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, a sign that investigators believed it unlikely terrorism was the motive. The official agreed to reveal that information only if not quoted by name.

Authorities released few details in the case, saying the investigation was still underway, with witnesses being interviewed and surveillance video being examined.