Toronto van attack suspect expected in court on Tuesday

Reuters
Canada Published: Apr 24, 2018, 06:01 PM(IST)

A victim is helped by pedestrians after a van hit multiple people at a major intersection in Toronto. Photograph:( Reuters )

A driver suspected of killing 10 and injuring 15 others when he plowed a rental van into pedestrians in Toronto will make his first court appearance on Tuesday when details of a motive for the attack were expected to emerge.

While the worst mass killing in Canada in decades has the hallmarks of other deadly vehicle assaults by Islamic State supporters in the United States and Europe, officials said it did not represent a threat to national security.

Alex Minassian, 25, identified by police as the suspect, will appear in a Toronto court at 10 a.m. EDT (1400 GMT), Toronto police said. Charges will be made public at that time.

Watch: 'Kill me,' shouted Toronto van driver, pointing gun at cop

Minassian, who was not previously known to authorities, attended a high school program where one classmate remembered him as "absolutely harmless."

The officer who apprehended Minassian was praised for making a peaceful arrest eve as the suspect shouted "Kill me" and claimed to have a gun.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who called the incident a "tragic and senseless attack," was to speak to reporters at 8:45 a.m. EDT (1245 GMT) in Ottawa.

Canadians mourned as the victims began to be identified on Tuesday. "We are a peaceful, tolerant, free society. The horrific violence on Toronto’s Yonge Street will strengthen rather than undermine these truths," columnist John Ibbitson wrote in the Globe and Mail national newspaper.

The attack shook the usually peaceful streets of Toronto, a multicultural city with a population of 2.8 million. The city recorded 61 murders last year.

Downtown Toronto`s iconic CN Tower, which is normally lit up in the evening, went dark on Monday evening. 

The drama started at lunchtime on a warm spring day, when the driver drove his vehicle into the crowds. The street was soon covered in blood, empty shoes and bodies.

Canada is still recovering from the shock of a highway crash in Saskatchewan earlier this month that killed 16 people on a bus carrying a junior hockey team. 

Last October eight people died in New York when a man driving a rented pickup truck mowed down pedestrians and cyclists on a bike path.

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