Suspect in Toronto van attack charged with murder of 10 people

AFP
The driver who plowed a van onto a crowded Toronto sidewalk was charged with 10 counts of murder, as PM Justin Trudeau urged a rattled nation not to live in fear.
AFP
Reuters

A work crew in protective clothing cleans a sidewalk a day after a van struck multiple people along a major intersection in north Toronto, Ontario, Canada, April 24, 2018.

A van driver who ran over 10 people when he plowed onto a busy Toronto sidewalk was charged with murder Tuesday, as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urged a rattled nation not to live in fear after the “senseless attack.”

Police said the suspect, 25-year-old Alek Minassian, was not known to them before Monday’s carnage in Canada’s most populous city, which also left 15 people injured.

He also was not in the crosshairs of intelligence and security agencies, leading Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale to sideline the theory of a terror attack.

“On the basis of all available information at the present time, there would appear to be no national security connection to this particular incident,” Goodale said.

But authorities said the incident during the busy lunch hour was undoubtedly deliberate, and Minassian — his head shaved, and in a white police jumpsuit — was charged with 10 counts of premeditated murder in a brief court appearance. He also faces multiple counts of attempted murder over those injured in the incident.

Two South Koreans were among the dead, a foreign ministry official in Seoul said, adding that another of the country’s citizens was seriously injured.

As the wounded recovered in local hospitals, investigators were probing the case, Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders said.

“Canadians across the country are shocked and saddened by this senseless attack,” Trudeau told a news conference.

But, he added: “We must not start living in fear and uncertainty every day as we go about our daily lives.”

Minassian, who has an imposing physical build, defied a police officer during his arrest. Wielding an object in his left hand, standing near the van with its front end smashed, the suspect shouted “kill me” to the police officer with his gun drawn, according to an amateur video posted on social media.

The police officer approached the suspect as he knelt and handcuffed him.

The city’s police chief later said Minassian was unarmed.

For 30 minutes prior, panic struck along the nearly kilometer-long stretch of Yonge Street where the driver had jumped the curb onto the sidewalk.

“All I could see was just people one by one getting knocked out, knocked out, one by one,” witness Alex Shaker said. “There are so many people lying down on the streets.”

Yesterday, police continued to comb the crime scene for evidence, while crowds gathered at a makeshift memorial to leave messages of condolences and flowers.


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