Eli Ridder | Report
Alek Minassian, the key suspect and man behind the wheel of a van that slammed into crowds in Toronto on Monday, has been charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder by a Canadian court.
The bail hearing has been scheduled for May 10 and the suspect will remain in custody until then.
Minassian drove a white rental van on a nearly kilometre-long stretch of the busy Yonge St. in Toronto’s North York region, some 20 k.m. from its downtown core, striking pedestrians one-by-one going southbound before being brought into custody 26 minutes later by a officer hailed a hero.
At a press conference held on Monday evening, authorities made it clear that the investigation still had to be “pieced together” but that it wasn’t part of a national security plot.
After consultations with high-level officials, Canada’s public safety minister told reporters on Monday evening that “on the basis of all available information at the present time there would appear to be no national security connection to this particular incident.”
The suspect attended a high school program for special needs where he attended a mix of general and separate classes, Reuters news agency reported, citing classmates who said that he was “absolutely harmless”.
Minassian was a withdrawn figure who walked with his head down and his hands clasped in front of him, according to classmate Shereen Chami.
Minassian’s Facebook page could not be accessed, but an old version is available through the Internet Archive, where the suspect said he attended Seneca College from 2011 to April 2018, graduated from Thornlea secondary school in 2011.
The suspect also listed software development under professional skills and a Toronto parking app is available through the Google Play Store under Alek Minassian, and is also listed as a Seneca posting.
Toronto Police said Minassian was not previously known to them and his motives were still unknown with Chief Mark Saunders saying on Monday night that the driver’s actions “definitely looked deliberate”.
Trudeau: ‘Shocked and saddened’
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gave an official response on Tuesday morning on Parliament Hill, saying that “Canadians across the country are shocked and saddened by this senseless tragedy and attack.”
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) April 24, 2018
“We can be comforted in seeing the extraordinary response of our first responders, folks who stepped up with courage and ability and insured that in the face of such terrible tragedy and attacks, we are pulling together and trying to find answers while keeping people safe,” Mr. Trudeau said.
He noted the work of Canadian intelligence agencies and their efforts to find answers in the case of the attack.
More details to follow. Image of Alek Minassian from social media.