TORONTO – Alek Minassian is a 25-year-old Toronto-area man who is accused of using a van Monday to mow down pedestrians along a busy street near his hometown.
Canadian officials said Minassian was driving 50 mph down the sidewalk on Yonge Street before police caught up to him blocks away. Overall, 10 people were killed and 15 more were injured.
Minassian lives just a few short miles from the crime scene in Richmond Hill, Ontario. He goes to school nearby and was traveling a normal route Monday afternoon. His family is Armenian and he was raised Christian. Police said there is no sense that Minassian was radicalized in any way. What they do say is he is socially awkward.
Officials know he was researching and chatting online about the Isla Vista massacre. Elliot Rodger killed six and injured 14 in a drive-by shooting and vehicle ramming attack near the UC Santa Barbara campus in Isla Vista, California in 2014.
Minassian took advantage of the busy Toronto sidewalks Monday and intentionally drove the van over a curb and into the pedestrians, authorities said. Video of his arrest shows him begging police officers to kill him. Minassian asked officers to shoot him, pretending to pull out a gun, police said. Toronto officers didn't shoot him, and he is in custody. Minassian did not have a gun.
Minassian appeared in court Tuesday morning. He is charged with 10 counts of murder and 13 attempted murder charges. He needs time to obtain attorney and is being held in jail.
Minassian's Facebook account
CNN reported Law Enforcement Analyst Josh Campbell said investigators had identified a Facebook account they believe belongs to Minassian.
According to reports, a message posted on the account earlier Monday read: "All hail the Supreme Gentleman Elliot Rodger!" Investigators said Rodger was motivated to carry out his attack by a personal grievance. He allegedly was active in online groups such as 4Chan where conversations surrounded men's rights and the claim that women were inferior.
Canadian PM: 'Tragic, senseless attack'
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau offered his condolences to the families of the victims on Monday. Trudeau called it a "tragic and senseless attack" thanked first responders who he said "faced danger without hesitation, and their efforts no doubt saved lives and prevented further injuries."
"We should all feel safe walking in our cities and communities," Trudeau said. "We are monitoring this situation closely, and will continue working with our law enforcement partners around the country to ensure the safety and security of all Canadians."