Ten people were killed and another 15 people were injured when a white van authorities say was driven by Alek Minassian rammed into pedestrians in Toronto, Canada. You can see photos from the scene below, but be aware that some of them are graphic and disturbing because the street was strewn with bodies covered with tarps in the wake of the attack.
The horrific attack unfolded in the Yonge Street and Finch Avenue area of North York in Toronto, Canada on April 23, 2018. Minassian was soon named as the suspect; he is 25 years old, from Richmond Hill, Ontario, and a Seneca College student, according to CBC.ca. The attack on pedestrians fit the now all-too-familiar modus operandi seen in other tragedies in London, France, Spain, and Germany.
However, Canadian officials say that they don’t believe Minassian is part of an “organized terror group,” such as ISIS. The Islamic State was a motivation for some of the previous car ramming attacks in European cities.
Eyewitness Diego DeMatos told CNN that one of the victims died in his arms. He was trying to help the man and “as I am doing it, the guy I was trying to help was dead, so he died in our arms,” he said to CNN, adding that “It was like a scene from a war zone,” he said. “There was garbage cans everywhere, broken bus shelters and mailboxes on the ground. It was just a horrific scene. It was really, really horrible.”
Witnesses described how the van jumped a curb and was traveling fast, mowing down pedestrians. You can read more about the suspect’s background here. He didn’t have much of a presence on social media, although he does appear to have a LinkedIn account.
Some troubling aspects of the suspect’s past are emerging, however. One possible social media post refers to a controversial celibacy movement called the Incel Movement.
The suspect was detained without further incident after the van ramming attack. Canada’s public safety minister thanked emergency services in a tweet, writing, “Grateful for the brave and professional response of @TorontoPolice and other first responders to the horrific attack at Yonge and Finch. Canadians are appalled at what happened. The victims and their families have our deepest condolences.”
It was only 1:30 p.m. local time when the attack occurred in broad daylight on the busy Toronto street. Bodies were seen covered with tarps after the attack in a gruesome and graphic scene.
Justin Trudeau, the Canadian prime minister, tweeted, “Our thoughts are with all those affected by the terrible incident at Yonge and Finch in Toronto.”
According to the BBC, a witness told City News that the van’s driver was “hitting anything that comes in the way. People, fire hydrants, there’s mail boxes being run over…I witnessed at least six, seven people being hit and flying in the air, like killed, on the street.”
The names of the victims were not immediately released. “I saw the van exactly on the sidewalk,” said Kasra Ebrahimi, another witness, to CBC. “It hits people, it looks like movies. I saw people go flying … people were screaming and yelling.”