TORONTO – Three new charges of attempted murder have been laid against the man accused in a deadly van attack in Toronto last month.
Alek Minassian, 25, of Richmond Hill, Ont., now faces 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder in the April 23 incident.
Police have said eight women and two men died after a rental van mounted a sidewalk along a busy street in north Toronto and ran down pedestrians in its path. Authorities initially said 13 people were injured that day but further investigation revealed three others were also hurt.
Minassian appeared in court by video from jail, standing straight with his arms at his side, and didn’t say a word as the three new charges were laid. Several women in court cried during the brief hearing, which concluded with the case being put over to Sept. 14.
Outside court, Minassian’s lawyer said he didn’t want to talk about how his client was doing.
“This isn’t a time to discuss Mr. Minassian, this is still a grieving period for the city,” Boris Bytensky told reporters. “There are many families that are grieving for those lives lost and those injured.”
Minassian’s family is devastated, Bytensky added.
“They appreciate the devastation on many other families as well,” he said. “They stand behind their son and are very respectful of the court process … they’re going to allow everyone to grieve. They send their condolences and really their prayers for everyone affected by this.”
VIDEO: Alek Minassian’s family devastated by van attack: lawyer
Minassian’s distraught father showed up at his son’s first court appearance last month. When asked if he had a statement to offer to the victims’ families, he replied “I’m sorry.”
Bytensky said the adjournment in the case is a little longer than usual because the Crown has a lot of disclosure to go through before handing it over to the defence. He added that he had no intention of litigating the case through the media.
Insp. Bryan Bott, the head of Toronto’s homicide squad, said shortly after the attack that police hadn’t identified a motive, but that the evidence they had didn’t meet the threshold for terrorism charges.
Bytensky said there’s no evidence thus far that suggests the attack was an act of terrorism.
“There’s a lot of people who were terrified,” he said. “This was obviously a very terrifying incident, but there’s no terrorism as we usually use that term involved in this case.”
Those who died in last month’s attack ranged in age from 22 to 94, and included a student from South Korea and a man from Jordan.