Toronto: The driver of the van that plowed into a crowd in Toronto has been charged with 10 counts of premeditated murder.
The incident resulted in the deaths of at least 10 people and 15 others were wounded on Monday, police chief Mark Saunders said.
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale wrote on Twitter that “there appears to be NO National Security connection to the horrible event” in Canada’s biggest city.
Social media in Canada, however, is abuzz with posts assailing the fact that the traditional media had refrained from calling the planned mass murder as a terrorist attack.
The incident took place in broad daylight around 16 kilometres from a conference centre hosting a meeting of G7 ministers, but officials said they had no evidence of a link to the event.
Police identified the driver as Alek Minassian, 25, a Christian with an Armenian roots.
Minassian was arrested at the scene after van plowed into pedestrians on Toronto's busy Yonge St.
Here's what we know about the suspect:
Police have identified the suspect in a deadly van attack in Toronto as Alek Minassian, a 25-year-old man from Richmond Hill, Ontario, a suburb north of the city.
Canadian media reported that Minassian is of Armenian origin, the vast majority of whom are orthodox Christians. His attack was done in a predominantly Iranian part of Toronto and comes on the anniversary of the Armenian genocide.
Ten people were killed and 15 injured on Monday afternoon after his rented white Ryder van jumped a curb and plowed into pedestrians along an approximately one-kilometre-long stretch of Toronto's busy Yonge Street.
A profile on social networking site LinkedIn identifies Minassian as a student at Seneca College in North York, the north Toronto neighbourhood where the attack took place.
Minassian attended a high school programme for students with special needs where he would often walk the halls with his head down and hands tightly clasped, according to former classmates.
Police say Minassian was arrested 26 minutes after he allegedly drove a white rental van into a crowd in the north end of Toronto, sending bodies flying.
The damaged rental van has been sealed off by investigators. Reuters
A bystander video of the incident, shown on CBC TV, shows a man repeatedly pointing an object at a police officer who shouts at him to "get down" as the suspect demands: "Kill me".
Shereen Chami said her former classmate was not violent.
Emergency services close Yonge Street in Toronto after a van mounted a sidewalk crashing into a crowd of pedestrians on Monday (AP)
She said Minassian was part of a programme at Thornlea Secondary School, in Toronto's northern suburbs, for high school students with special needs, attending a mix of mainstream and separate classes.
Chami remembers him walking the halls with his hands together and his head down, and making meowing noises.
"He wasn't a social person, but from what I remember he was absolutely harmless," she said.
Two other classmates said they attended classes for students with special needs alongside Minassian. Special needs is a blanket term used in the Canadian education system that covers learning and behavioral difficulties as well as physical disabilities.
Candles and messages are being left at a makeshift memorial on Yonge Street. — AFP
Police said Minassian was not previously known to them and his motives were still unknown. Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders said the driver's actions "definitely looked deliberate".
Minassian's Facebook page could not be accessed through the social networking site.
A bare-bones version available through the Internet Archive said he attended Seneca College from 2011 to April 2018, graduated from Thornlea secondary school in 2011 and listed software development under professional skills.
The alleged Facebook post of Alek Minassian. The posting appears to be by Minassian says the "incel rebellion has already begun. We will overthrow all the Chads and the Stacys." - Twitter
A September 2013 blog post said he had started to work at Seneca College's Centre for Development of Open Technology.
He posted about his progress developing software there until March 2014. Google's Android store offers a parking app developed by someone named Alek Minassian.
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale told reporters that while the day's events were "horrendous," they do not appear to represent a larger threat to national security.
At a news conference Monday night, Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders declined to speculate about a motive, saying authorities were still investigating. But he said the driver's actions "definitely looked deliberate."
"We are looking very strongly to what the exact motivation was for this particular incident to take place," he said. "At the end of the day, we will have a fulsome answer, and we will have a fulsome account as to what the conclusion of this is."
Yet one possible explanation has emerged online that suggests Minassian was angry over being rebuffed by women.
A Facebook post by a man with the same name and the same photo as the one that appears on Minassian's LinkedIn profile refers to the "Supreme Gentleman Elliot Rodger," a 22-year-old responsible for a deadly rampage in Isla Vista, California, that left six people dead and a dozen more injured.
NEW: 25-year-old Alek Minassian identified as the suspected driver who ran down pedestrians in Toronto, killing at least 9, sources confirm to CBS News. https://t.co/SMF8S8GCbN pic.twitter.com/hJ9mo7sn7S— CBS News (@CBSNews) April 23, 2018
In a video posted ahead of that 2014 attack, Rodger raged about a number of women turning down his advances, rendering men like him "incels," a term that stands for "involuntarily celibate."
Rodger referred to the men who always seemed to win with women as "Chads" and the women who turned men down as "Stacys."
The posting that appears to be by Minassian says the "incel rebellion has already begun. We will overthrow all the Chads and the Stacys."
CBC News has not been able to independently verify the post as having been written by Minassian.
Cellphone video posted to social media on Monday afternoon shows a man stepping out of a white van with a damaged front end that is stopped on the sidewalk.
He steps into the line of fire of a police officer who has his weapon drawn and can be heard yelling, "Kill me" and gesturing at the officer to shoot him.
'Not previously known'
Saunders said Monday night that no gun was found on the male driver at the time of his arrest.
He said Minassian was not previously known to Toronto police.
The driver was apprehended about 25 minutes after the van first began careening southbound down Yonge Street, the police chief said.
The vehicle was at times travelling along the sidewalk and at other times against traffic in the north-bound lanes of the busy street, a major artery in Toronto.
Saunders said there is a "tremendous amount" of work underway by investigators to process the scene, which he described as "very large" with a multitude of witnesses present at the time of the attack.
He also said Toronto police are working with their federal and provincial counterparts as part of the investigation.