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Van Left 'Pure Carnage' for Nearly a Mile in Toronto

Police believe there is no terror connection
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 24, 2018 3:13 AM CDT
Updated Apr 24, 2018 6:03 AM CDT

(Newser) – Police don't know why a van sped along a busy sidewalk in Toronto on Monday afternoon, leaving a trail of bodies in its wake—but they say it "definitely looks deliberate." A suspect identified as 25-year-old Alek Minassian was arrested near the scene of the horrific attack, which killed 10 people and injured 15. In bystander video of the arrest, the suspect can be seen brandishing an object at an officer and saying "Kill me" and "Shoot me in the head," the Toronto Star reports. He eventually obeyed the officer's orders to get on the ground and was taken into custody without shots being fired. Police later said he did not have a gun. The latest developments:

  • "Not part of a plot." Ralph Goodale, Canada's public security minister, says there is no sign the attack was part of a wider terror plot in Toronto, where G7 foreign and security ministers met Monday, the CBC reports. "On the basis of all available information at the present time there would appear to be no national security connection to this particular incident," he told reporters late Monday.

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  • "Pure carnage." John Flengas, acting superintendent for EMS Toronto, says the rented van left "pure carnage" for almost a mile, with "victims everywhere," the Globe and Mail reports. Witnesses say the van veered wildly and sometimes accelerated at pedestrians as it moved south along Yonge Street, sometimes on the sidewalk and sometimes in the northbound lanes.
  • Mental illness. Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders told reporters that Minassian, a resident of the Richmond Hill suburb, was not known to police. National security sources tell CTV that police have found no evidence of radicalization and the investigation is focusing on mental illness.
  • "We lost a little bit of our innocence." The attack deeply shocked a city that prides itself on its reputation for safety. "We lost a little bit of our innocence," city council member John Filion tells the Washington Post. "We often think of ourselves as being somewhat excluded from the violence and craziness that goes on in other parts of the world. You just kind of don’t think of Toronto as a place where that kind of violence will come to."

  • A Facebook post. The CBC reports that speculation is swirling around a Facebook post apparently from Minassian that praises Elliot Rodger, the "involuntarily celibate" gunman who killed six people in a California rampage in 2014, though it has been unable to verify whether the post was by Minassian or "created after that fact and intended to mislead."
  • Statement from Trudeau. "It was with great sadness that I heard about the tragic and senseless attack that took place in Toronto this afternoon," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement. "We should all feel safe walking in our cities and communities. We are monitoring this situation closely, and will continue working with our law enforcement partners around the country to ensure the safety and security of all Canadians."
  • Officer praised. Mike McCormack, president of the Toronto Police Association, says the officer who arrested Minassian is a hero, the National Post reports. He says the officer, the first on the scene, showed "amazing restraint." He says the "humble" officer doesn't care that he is being praised on social media. "The guy's brokenhearted about the carnage and the amount of people who died today," McCormack says.
(Read more Toronto stories.)

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