A man driving a white van plowed through a crowd of pedestrians in a busy stretch of north Toronto on Monday afternoon, killing at least 10 and injuring at least 15.
The driver sped down sidewalks at 40 miles per hour and traveled between a half-mile and a mile before being stopped by authorities and taken into custody. Toronto police have identified 25-year-old Alek Minassian of Richmond Hill, Ontario as the driver of the vehicle.
Toronto police chief Marc Saunders said the investigation is ongoing. He told reporters in a Monday evening press conference that “the actions definitely look deliberate,” but officials have not determined a motive. The suspect, Minassian, was not previously known to police.
At the moment Canadian authorities say that Minassian does not have any known links to terrorist networks and are not treating the incident as a terrorist attack.
Canada’s Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Ralph Goodale said the country faced no national security risk, based on the information available.
After speaking with top security officials - based on information to date - there appears to be NO National Security connection to the horrible event in Toronto today.— Ralph Goodale (@RalphGoodale) April 24, 2018
John Flengas, the acting emergency medical services supervisor for Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center in Toronto, which has received several victims from the incident, described the scene to CTV News as “pure carnage.”
“It’s unprecedented. We’ve never seen anything like this in Toronto up until now,” he said, according to the Globe and Mail. “We never thought this would happen here.”
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a statement expressing condolences for the victims on Monday afternoon. “Our hearts go out to anyone affected. We’re obviously going to have more to learn and more to say in the coming hours,” he said.
The method of attack resembles other ISIS-directed and inspired attacks around the world in recent years. Vehicles have become a terrorist weapon of choice in cities including New York, where eight were killed last October, and Nice, where 86 people were killed in 2016.
These kinds of attacks are notoriously difficult to prevent because it’s hard for authorities to prevent an individual working alone from using an everyday vehicle as a weapon. Indeed, that’s in large part why terror groups — particularly ISIS — encourage their followers to use this method of attack.