Update 4: According to local police, the Toronto suspect has been identified as Alek Minassian, aged 25. The Toronto police claim that Minassian is not known to them, and no motive has emerged yet, although there have been conflicting reports that Minassian was known to authorities.
According to unconfirmed reports, Minassian is from Richmond Hill, studied at Seneca College and developed an app called “Toronto Green Parking Advisor.”
— Peter Akman (@PeterAkman) April 23, 2018
According to NBC, quoting “multiple law enforcement officials in Canada and the U.S.” the preliminary theory is that Minassian may have had mental health issues and had an online discussion about Eliot Rodger who went on a rampage at UC Santa Barbara.
9 people are dead and 16 injured after a van struck pedestrians in Toronto, Canada.
— Víctor M͟u͟r͟o͟ (@Muro) April 23, 2018
Three sources tell us: Toronto suspect is Alek Minassian, 25 Years Old, deliberate act influenced by mental illness leading theory. He allegedly researched past 2014 incident in CA.
— jonathan dienst (@jonathan4ny) April 23, 2018
As of now, the suspect’s motive remains uncertain. Toronto police spokeswoman Meaghan Gray told reporter, “At this point it’s too early to tell what, if any, motive there was.”
Meanwhile, as Site Intel Group’s Rita Katz points out, as of now, ISIS channels are not promoting the Toronto vehicular attack, which contains staples of ISIS-inspired events. Though Alek Minassian wasn’t killed, ISIS may still issue statement if news of links/allegiance arises (like case of Manhattan attacker Sayfullo Saipov).
A clip showing the moment of Minassian’s arrest:
And the aftermath:
A photo of the rented Ryder van used for the deadly assault is shown below:
* * *
Update 3: According to a police update, 9 people have been killed and 16 people injured as a result of the van striking pedestrians in Toronto on Monday. The name of the suspect, who was arrested shortly after the deadly attack, has not yet been released.
* * *
Update 2: Toronto Mayor John Tory told reporters there are casualties as a result of today’s incident but says the city is in “safe hands.”
Ralph Goodale, Canada’s minister of public safety, says police are conducting thorough investigation into what happened and why it happened. “Until they can provide us with details, it would be inappropriate to speculate” on whether incident is a terror attack.
Meanwhile, CP24 reported that according to Senior Canadian government sources, the country’s terror threat level has not changed and although the RCMP has been looped in, the incident is not yet being treated as a national security investigation.
In separate news, North York General Hospital confirmed to CP24 they have received a number of patients after the incident at Yonge St. and Finch Ave. Extent of injuries is not yet known.
* * *
Update: According to Toronto police, the van driver has been arrested, however so far there are no details on age, gender or motive.
The van involved in multiple pedestrians stuck in the Yonge and Finch area of Toronto has been located and the driver arrested. ^sm
— Toronto Police (@TorontoPolice) April 23, 2018
As reported earlier, 8 to 10 people were hit, police said, though Toronto paramedics put the injured number at closer to five.
A witness said separately that he had seen at least four bodies lying covered on the ground, suggesting at least several fatalities, although a local hospital representative confirmed that so far one person has died and at least several others were injured.
The van, which may have mounted the curb and hit the pedestrians on the sidewalk, was stopped by police, Const. Jenifferjit Sidhu told CBC Toronto. Sidhu added that the police still does not know the cause or reason for the collision.
Meanwhile, as CTVNews reports, witness Alex Shaker, who was driving southbound at the time, says the van was travelling at high speed on the sidewalk.
“He started going down on the sidewalk and crumbling down people one by one,” Shaker told CTV News Channel on Monday afternoon.
Shaker said he saw the vehicle strike someone with a stroller.
“He just destroyed so many people’s lives,” he said. “Every single thing that got in his way.”
The extent of injuries is unknown and ambulances are on the scene. Photos posted online show multiple individuals on the ground.
* * *
Witness Phil Zullo, who was driving northbound, says he first noticed the commotion when he saw police taking down a male suspect. Zullo says he continued north, where he saw “shoes and hats flown everywhere.”
A witness named Kash told local news station CP24 that he was having lunch at a Jack Astors restaurant when he came out and saw four bodies on the ground in front of Mel Lastman Square. “People were trying to revive them obviously to no avail,” he said.
“It seems very clearly that the van had hopped the curb and kind of driven on the sidewalk going southbound and hit plenty of people.” Kash said that it was “very traumatic.”
“Our thoughts and prayers go to people that do have family that have been hit,” he said. “There was a guy here who said he followed the van down honking his horn trying to warn people as much as he could.”
* * *
Video shared with CTV News shows the suspect pointing a small, dark object at police, with his back to the van. Police can be seen taking cover behind their vehicle and shouting at him to get down.
“Get down!” the officer is heard shouting. “I have a gun in my pocket,” the suspect can be heard saying.
“Get down or you’ll be shot!” the officer says.
The camera turns away from the confrontation for approximately eight seconds, then looks back to show the suspect on the ground, face-down, with the officer cuffing him.
Another video recorded from a nearby building shows the moment missed in the previous video. The suspect can be seen walking out in the street with the object in his hand still pointed at the officer. After approximately five seconds he drops the weapon, throws out his arms and backs up to the curb.
The van suspected in the collision was found on Poyntz Avenue off of Yonge, just south of Sheppard Avenue West.
The van is marked as belonging to the rental company Ryder, which suggests a London-copycat terrorist attack; recall the van used in the March 2017 deadly attack on London Bridge was also a rental.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau briefly addressed the situation before a session in the House of Commons Monday afternoon.
“Our hearts go out to anyone affected,” Trudeau said. “We’re obviously going to have more to learn and more to say in the coming hours.”
— Mackenzie Gray (@Gray_Mackenzie) April 23, 2018
* * *
Toronto police say a white van has struck several pedestrians in the Yonge Street and Finch Avenue area. Police said eight to ten people were hit.
UPDATE 1:27 pm, police were called to Yonge Street and Finch Avenue East, for a collision.
A Media Sgt from traffic services is on their way to the scene.
Too early to confirm the number of pedestrians struck or their injuries. More to come.^gl
— Toronto Police OPS (@TPSOperations) April 23, 2018
— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) April 23, 2018
The van may have mounted the curb and hit the pedestrians on the sidewalk, police added according to CBC.
Police were called to the area shortly before 1:30 p.m. on Monday.
An unconfirmed video from the scene of the accident shows a number of people being treated on site.
— Obelix (@henrimiller100) April 23, 2018
As NBC reporter Tom Winter notes, there is no word yet on whether this was an intentional or accidental act.
DEVELOPING: 8-10 people have been struck by a white van in Toronto at Yonge Street and Finch Avenue. Toronto police say they are investigating. No word yet on whether this was an intentional or accidental act.
— Tom Winter (@Tom_Winter) April 23, 2018
Emergency crews are asking members of the public to avoid the area.
There is no subway service between Sheppard and Finch stations on Line 1 due to the police investigation.
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