Alek Minassian, a 25-year-old student, has been identified as a suspect after at least 10 people were killed and 15 injured when a van ploughed into by a sidewalk in Canada’s Toronto for about two kilometres. Alek Minassian was arrested by the police following a confrontation. No shots were fired. While the police are yet to make comments on the motivation behind the attack, they said it “definitely looked deliberate.”
According to Reuters, a bare-bones version available through the Internet Archive said he attended Seneca College from 2011 to April 2018, graduated from Thornlea secondary school in 2011 and listed software development under professional skills. A September 2013 blog post said he had started to work at Seneca College’s Centre for Development of Open Technology.
Shereen Chami, her former classmate said that Minassian was not violent. She said he was part of a program at Thornlea Secondary School, in Toronto’s northern suburbs, for high school students with special needs, attending a mix of mainstream and separate classes. Chami remembers him walking the halls with his hands together and his head down, and making meowing noises. “He wasn’t a social person, but from what I remember he was absolutely harmless,” she said. Two other classmates said they attended classes for students with special needs alongside Minassian.
Toronto van attack leaves at least 10 dead — Here’s everything you need to know
Minassian was arrested moments after he drove the van at the Yonge Street and Finch Avenue East crossing. He hails from Richmond, Ontario. According to Toronto police chief Mark Saunders Minassian was not carrying any gun at the time of his arrest, however, a video from CBC shows what appears to be the suspect prior to his arrest waving an unidentifiable object and yelling to a police officer. He is standing in front of the white van parked on a sidewalk. The person who seems to emerge from the van at one point appears to shout “kill me” at the officer.
“We are looking very strongly to what the exact motivation was for this particular incident to take place,” Saunders said. “At the end of the day, we will have a fulsome answer, and we will have a fulsome account as to what the conclusion of this is.”
Asked if there was any evidence of a connection to international terrorism, the chief said, “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.
A Toronto police officer who refused to shoot the man was praised for restraint in the midst of chaos, coming just minutes after the incident. 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.”
(This is a developing story, more details awaited)