Toronto van attack: What we know about suspect Alek Minassian
Authorities in Toronto identified Alek Minassian as the man suspected of using a Ryder rental van to run down several pedestrians in Canada’s largest city, killing at least 10 people and injuring 15 others while leaving carnage in his wake.
Minassian, of Richmond Hill, Ont., was named Monday as the alleged driver of a white van that was used in the rampage that stretched about a kilometre in the city’s North York neighbourhood.
Here’s what we know about the suspected van attacker.
According to a LinkedIn social media profile, Minassian has been a student at Seneca College since 2011, studying computer software development.
In 2014, a person with the same name created an Android public parking app, available on Google Play, that allows users to search for parking locations in Toronto close to a specific address. The app was last updated in 2014, and had over 100 downloads.
Global News obtained a Facebook post Monday that Minassian wrote, just before carrying out his rampage, where he praised the “Incel Rebellion,” and California mass-killer Elliot Rodger, just before carrying out the rampage.
“The Incel Rebellion has already begun!” reads the post. “We will overthrow all the Chads and Stacys! All hail the Supreme Gentleman Elliot Rodger!”
Rodger killed six people in 2014 in a vehicle and shooting rampage. Before carrying out the act, Rodger posted a video blasting the women who rejected him and the men who weren’t rejected and were sexually active.
“I’ll take great pleasure in slaughtering all of you,” he said. “I don’t know why you girls are so repulsed by me.”
Facebook confirmed to Global News it removed Minassian’s post Monday.
A former classmate of Minassian’s said he believed the afternoon attack had more to do with mental health than terrorism.
“He wasn’t a terrorist, in my opinion,” Dominic Reynolds said in an interview. “People are jumping to all kinds of conclusion when the main focus should be on mental health and why he did it.”
“This is a terrible tragedy and our hearts go out to the people who have been affected,” a spokesperson for the social media company said in an email. “There is absolutely no place on our platform for people who commit such horrendous acts.”
Minassian spent a short time with the Canadian Armed Forces last year, but quit after completing just over two weeks of training.
“The accused in the recent incident in Toronto, was a member of the Canadian Armed Forces for two months in late 2017 – from Aug. 23 until Oct. 25,” a spokesperson for the Canadian military said. “He did not complete his recruit training and requested to be voluntarily released from the CAF after 16 days of recruit training.”
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan told reporters in Ottawa that Minassian had been “thoroughly screened” during the recruiting process.
WATCH: Defence minister confirms Alek Minassian was briefly member of Canadian Forces
“One thing I can tell you is when it comes to the selection process that the military takes, we go through a very rigorous process in terms of security,” Sajjan said. “My focus is making sure the people that are going to be doing the Canadian Armed Forces have been thoroughly screened and in this case, that was done and we’ll continue to do so, just like any other security agencies go through.
“In this case here, this member literally was in the military for approximately two months but was in recruit training for 16 days and voluntarily withdrew,” the defence minister said.
York Regional Police raided a home in Richmond Hill following the Toronto attack, at an address believed to be where Minassian lives. Global News showed a picture of the accused to area residents and many said it is the man who lives in the house police raided.
Vahe and Sona Minassian were listed as the owners of the home, located in the area of Bayview Avenue and 16th Avenue.
Motive of the attack remains unclear
The city is reeling from the attack, that struck the heart of the vibrant north Toronto community on a sunny day.
At around 1:30 p.m. ET Monday, police responded to the call of eight to 10 people being struck by a van near the intersection of Yonge Street and Finch Avenue. The carnage continued south on Yonge Street, until about 1:50 p.m. when Minassian was arrested after a brief standoff with an officer.
“Based on witness accounts, we have a vehicle that started north on Yonge Street from Finch and drove southbound at some points in time on sidewalks, at some points in time driving southbound in the northbound lane,” Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders said. “So it’s very clear just from a general perspective to say that the actions definitely looked deliberate.”
The motive behind the van attack remains unclear Tuesday, but police said Minassian, 25, was not known to authorities.
“We don’t rule out anything. What we have to do is we have to follow what we have,” Saunders said. “It’s very early in the investigation right now. You have to appreciate that there has to be forensic investigations, digital and otherwise. There has to be witnesses [to] not just what may have occurred but witnesses that may have information based on the person that we’re alleging has done this.”
Minassian appeared in a Toronto courtroom Tuesday, where he was formally charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder and 13 counts of attempted murder.
–with files from Stewart Bell and Amanda Connolly
© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.