What we know about Alek Minassian, alleged driver in deadly Toronto van attack

Police have identified the suspect in a deadly van attack in Toronto as Alek Minassian, a 25-year-old man from Richmond Hill, Ont., a suburb north of the city.

Ten people were killed and 15 injured on Monday afternoon after a rented white Ryder van jumped a curb and plowed into pedestrians along an approximately one-kilometre-long stretch of Toronto’s busy Yonge Street.

A profile on social networking site LinkedIn identifies Minassian as a student at Seneca College in North York, the north Toronto neighbourhood where the attack took place. 

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale told reporters that while the day’s events were “horrendous,” they do not appear to represent a larger threat to national security.

At a news conference Monday night, Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders declined to speculate about a motive, saying authorities were still investigating. But he said the driver’s actions “definitely looked deliberate.”

“We are looking very strongly to what the exact motivation was for this particular incident to take place,” he 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.”

Police are seen near a damaged van believed to be the vehicle that crashed into a number of pedestrians on busy Yonge Street in the north of the city/ (Aaron Vincent Elkaim/Canadian Press)

Speculation surfaced Monday night around a Facebook post associated with the same name and the same photo as the one that appears on Minassian’s LinkedIn profile. CBC News has not been able to independently verify whether the Facebook post was, indeed, written by Minassian or created after that fact and intended to mislead.

The post referred to the “Supreme Gentleman Elliot Rodger.” Rodger was the 22-year-old California man responsible for a deadly rampage in Isla Vista, Calif., that left six people dead and a dozen more injured.

In a video posted ahead of that 2014 attack, Rodger raged about a number of women turning down his advances, rendering men like him “incels,” a term used by some groups to mean “involuntarily celibate.”

‘He wasn’t overly social’

Ari Bluff told CBC News that he went to Thornlea Secondary School with Minassian in Thornhill, north of Toronto. The two had a computer science class together in Grade 10 and both graduated in 2011, he said.

“I’m not sure if he had any very, very close friends, at least publicly,” Bluff said. “I never saw him with a group of friends, generally. But whenever we would see him in the hallways, we’d always speak to him or say hi to him or whatnot.”

Minassian, second from left in the top row, is shown in a 2011 yearbook photo from Thornlea Secondary School in Thornhill north of Toronto. (Ari Bluff)

Bluff said Minassian didn’t seem to have a core group of friends and remembers  him being mostly “sort of in the background” rather than at the centre of a social group.

“I remember seeing him probably just walking down the halls, usually by himself, or in the cafeteria by himself,” he said. “My memory is not perfect, but certainly, it would not be, I don’t think, a misstatement to say that he wasn’t overly social.

Cellphone video posted to social media on Monday afternoon shows a man stepping out of a white van with a damaged front end that is stopped on the sidewalk. He steps into the line of fire a police officer who has his weapon drawn and can be heard yelling, “Kill me” and gesturing at the officer to shoot him.

“Kill me,” the man can be heard yelling as Toronto police arrested him 1:29

Saunders said Monday night that no gun was found on the male driver at the time of his arrest. He said Minassian was not previously known to Toronto police.

The driver was apprehended about 25 minutes after the van first began careening southbound down Yonge Street, the police chief said. The vehicle was at times travelling along the sidewalk and at other times against traffic in the northbound lanes of the busy street, a major artery in Toronto.

A coroner waits to remove a dead body from the sidewalk at the scene of the fatal van attack Monday. (Aaron Vincent Elkaim/Canadian Press)

Saunders said there is a “tremendous amount” of work underway by investigators to process the scene, which he described as “very large” with a multitude of witnesses present at the time of the attack. He also said Toronto police are working with their federal and provincial counterparts as part of the investigation.  

How the first hours after attack unfolded

View an interactive map of Yonge Street to see how authorities reacted immediately after the attack

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Originally posted 2018-04-24 01:53:04. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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