AT LEAST ten people have been killed and another 15 injured after a van mounted a pavement in Toronto, Canada. Eyewitnesses likened the attack to “a war zone” after a speeding white rental truck ploughed into pedestrians for up to a mile along the busy north-central street.
Elderly residents and a woman with a baby stroller were among those thrown into the air by the speeding vehicle just before 1.30pm local time (18:30 GMT), according to bystanders. Cops arrested Alek Minassian, 25, several blocks from the incident along Yonge Street and Finch Avenue after a furious stand-off which saw him wrestled and pinned against a police car.
Footage of the arrest shows the suspect telling police to shoot him yelling: “Kill me. I have a gun in my pocket. Shoot me in the head.” One eyewitness told CNN the driver appeared to have been targeting people during the lunchtime rush.
What we know so far:
- At least ten people have died and 15 left injured after a van mounted a pavement in Toronto, Canada at 1.30pm local time
- The white Ryder rental van drove into pedestrians for up to a mile reaching speeds of up to 70mph
- Suspect identified as Alek Minassian, 25, who was quickly arrested and remains in custody
- Police say Minassian was not known to authorities and local reports say he “isn’t linked to any terror groups”
- Footage of the arrest shows the suspect telling police to “shoot me in the head”
- Eyewitnesses say “a young girl and a woman with a baby stroller” were thrown into the air
- G7 ministers met in Toronto to discuss terrorism and cyber security
He said: “This person was intentionally doing this, he was killing everybody. He kept going, he kept going. People were getting hit, one after another.” Another said he saw people “strewn all over the road” while one bystander claimed the driver appeared “in control” of the vehicle as it hit pedestrians.
Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders identified the suspect as Minassian, adding that he had not previously been known to authorities and they do not know his motives. According to a LinkedIn profile, Minassian is a student at Seneca College and from Richmond Hill, a northern suburb of the Canadian city.
Joseph Pham, 25, who took a computer programming class with Minassian at Seneca, told The Star he was at school just last week and described him as “socially awkward.” He said :“He kept to himself. He didn’t really talk to anyone.”
Minassian is reportedly not believed to be linked to any terror groups, but a Facebook post apparently written by him referred to the “Supreme Gentleman Elliot Rodger,” CBC reports. Rodger, 22, was responsible for a deadly rampage in Isla Vista, Calif., that left six people dead and a dozen more injured in 2014.
The bloodbath on Monday unfolded just 18 miles from G7 ministers, including Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who were meeting to discuss terrorism and cyber security. Footage from bystanders show dozens of pedestrians gathering victims who were hit by the vehicle.
Buildings and workplaces in the surrounding area have been put on lockdown while nearby subway stations were closed. Cops have since cordoned off the southbound lanes of Yonge Street and have urged locals to avoid the area. According to CBC one eyewitness said he had seen at least four bodies lying covered on the ground.
One eyewitness told a local reporter “He was in control of what he was doing, he knew what he was doing from what I can. I was in shock but from what I can tell that’s what he was doing.” Rental van company Ryder confirmed it was co-operating with the authorities after one of its vehicles had been used in the attack.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said: “Our thoughts are obviously with all of those affected. We are still gathering information. We will keep Canadians updated.” Toronto Mayor John Tory paid his respects to the victims saying: “My thoughts are with those affected by this incident and the frontline responders who are working to help those injured. I have offered any and all assistance that the city can provide to police to help this investigation.”