Toronto: A rented van ploughed down a crowded Toronto sidewalk Monday, killing 10 people and injuring 15 before the driver fled and was quickly arrested in a confrontation with police, Canadian authorities said.
Witnesses said the driver was moving fast and appeared to be acting deliberately, but police officials would not comment on the cause or any possible motive.
Speaking at a news conference Monday night, Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders raised the initial death toll of nine to 10, saying another victim had died at a hospital. He said 15 others were hospitalised.
Saunders identified the man detained after the incident as Alek Minassian, 25, a resident of the Toronto suburb of Richmond Hill.
Authorities released few details in the case, saying the investigation was still underway, with witnesses being interviewed and surveillance video being examined.
“I can assure the public all our available resources have been brought in to investigate this tragic situation,” Toronto Police Services Deputy Chief Peter Yuen said earlier.
The incident occurred as cabinet ministers from the major industrial countries were gathered in Canada to discuss a range of international issues in the run-up to the G7 meeting near Quebec City in June.
Minister of Public Safety Ralph Goodale said that it was too soon to say whether the crash was a case of international terrorism and that the government had not raised its terrorism alert.
A senior national government official later said that authorities had not turned over the investigation to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, a sign that investigators believed it unlikely terrorism was the motive. The official agreed to reveal that information only if not quoted by name.
The driver was heading south on busy Yonge Street around 0530GMT (1:30pm) and the streets were crowded with people enjoying an unseasonably warm day when the van jumped onto the sidewalk.
Ali Shaker, who was driving near the van at the time, told Canadian broadcast outlet CP24 that the driver appeared to be moving deliberately through the crowd at more than 48 kph (30 mph).
“He just went on the sidewalk,” a distraught Shaker said. “He just started hitting everybody, man. He hit every single person on the sidewalk. Anybody in his way he would hit.”
Witness Peter Kang told CTV News that the driver did not seem to make any effort to stop.
“If it was an accident he would have stopped,” Kang said. “But the person just went through the sidewalk. He could have stopped.”
Toronto’s main daily newspaper, the Globe and Mail, reported on its website that the driver was taken into custody after he got out of the van and pointed what appeared to be a handgun at a police officer, according to a witness and videos posted to Twitter.
The man was walking towards the officer, pointing at him with something in his hand, but dropped the object on the pavement as he obeyed the officer’s order to get down on the ground.
Here is the Canadian police officer arresting the suspect in the Toronto attack in North York today-his restraint is nothing short of amazing…now imagine if they were in America.