Police question Toronto van attack suspect after 10 people killed

24 April 2018, 03:34

The suspect in the van rampage in Toronto that left 10 people dead is due in court later as police investigate the motive behind the attack.

Another 15 people are believed to have been injured on the corner of Yonge Street and Finch Avenue, where the van mounted a pavement and mowed down pedestrians.

Officers have arrested the driver of the van, who has been named as Alek Minassian, from Ontario's Richmond Hill.

The 25-year-old is due to appear in court at 10am local time (3pm BST).

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Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Toronto had faced a "senseless attack and a horrific tragedy".

"We're continuing to monitor it closely and work with our law enforcement partners around the country to ensure the safety and security of all Canadians," he said.

Mr Trudeau said the country's threat level had not changed in the wake of the attack and insisted Canadians must not live in fear.

Footage emerged showing the suspect facing off with police, shouting "kill me" and "I've got a gun in my pocket" while appearing to point something at officers at the scene.

One officer tells him to "get down" and can be later seen putting handcuffs on the man.

The actions of the suspect appear to have been intentional, police chief Mark Saunders said.

The man was not previously known to police, however, and an investigation is considering whether he acted alone.

Authorities say there is no evidence at present that the incident was related to a national security issue.

"The events are horrendous but they do not appear to be associated with national security at this time," public safety minister Ralph Goodale said.

Speaking to Sky News after the incident, witness Diego DeMatos said the white van had driven for about five or six blocks without stopping and apparently purposefully.

"We actually saw when the van hit the last few people that were on the sidewalk," Mr DeMatos said.

"We thought it was just a hit and run. He kept driving… all I could see was dead bodies on the floor."

Henry Miller, who lives in an apartment overlooking the street, said: "I heard a large amount of honking... and I stepped out on to the balcony to see what was causing the trouble and at this point I saw a lady lying on the floor and the van driving off with people running around trying to help her."

He described a white van "speeding probably 60-70mph down this major road, swerving to what I would say fairly deliberately hit pedestrians and swerving in and out of traffic, before eventually careering off into one of the other side streets and out of view".

An area of around 1km around the scene was closed down following the incident as part of an ongoing investigation, police said.

Authorities anticipate that officers will remain at the police cordon for several days, and have appealed to witnesses for further information.

Helplines for people who may be experiencing distress after seeing the carnage have also been made available.

John Tory, Mayor of Toronto, said he wanted to assure residents the city was in "safe hands".

"This is a time when this community should come together, these are not the kinds of things we expect to happen, we hope they don't happen anywhere in the world but especially, we don't expect them to happen in Toronto," he said.

"We are admired around the world for being inclusive and being accepting and considerate."