Police have confirmed 10 people are dead and 14 are injured after a van rammed into a crowd of people walking on Yonge Street in north Toronto on Monday afternoon.
Alek Minassian, a 25-year-old man from Richmond Hill, Ont., is the alleged driver in the incident and is in police custody. He was arrested by Toronto police without any gunshots fired.
Minassian is believed to be responsible for hitting pedestrians with a white van in a busy part of the city. The suspect allegedly hit pedestrians on a one-kilometre stretch of Yonge Street near Finch Avenue, driving on the sidewalk and against the normal flow of the traffic at times, Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders told reporters with high-ranking officials by his side.
- PHOTOS: Several pedestrians struck by van in Toronto
- PHOTOS: Van plows down multiple pedestrians in Toronto
“It’s very clear, just from a general perspective, to say the actions definitely looked deliberate,” Saunders said, adding the suspect is not believed to be known to Toronto police.
“We don’t rule out anything,” Saunders replied when asked if police are ruling out terrorism as a possible motive. “It is early — we’re not excluding anything.”
Saunders insisted “the city is safe” and police are not believed to be looking for any other suspects at this time. Toronto Police Services first tweeted about the incident being reported just before 1:30 p.m. ET.
Toronto Mayor John Tory is urging people to stay away from the area as a “very complicated investigation” is in process.
“These are not the kinds of things that we expect to happen in this city,” Tory told reporters. “We hope they don’t happen anywhere in the world, but we especially don’t expect them to happen in Toronto.”
The mayor stressed “it is a time to be as calm as we can be in the city.”
Senior members of the federal government are aware of the incident. Toronto is hosting a meeting with G7 leaders where Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland spoke to the media about the incident.
“I cannot provide details at this stage,” Goodale said, confirming that Toronto police is the lead investigative agency in this investigation.
“We cannot come to any firm conclusions at this stage,” Goodale continued. When asked whether the incident was an act of terror, the public safety minister said “it would be inappropriate to speculate.”
Grateful for the brave and professional response of @TorontoPolice and other first responders to the horrific attack at Yonge and Finch. Canadians are appalled at what happened. The victims and their families have our deepest condolences.
— Ralph Goodale (@RalphGoodale) April 23, 2018
However, Goodale said he has no information that would cause him to make any changes to Canada’s National Terrorism Threat Level.
Freeland called the incident a “very sad moment.” Both leaders thanked first responders and law enforcement officials while expressing their sympathies to those affected.
“Our thoughts are with all thosed affected by the terrible incident at Yonge and Finch in Toronto,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Twitter. “Thank you to the first responders working at the scene – we’re monitoring the situation closely.”
Our thoughts are with all those affected by the terrible incident at Yonge and Finch in Toronto. Thank you to the first responders working at the scene – we're monitoring the situation closely.
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) April 23, 2018
Toronto Fire was the first to tell Yahoo Canada about “numerous” casualties. Stephan Powell, district chief at Toronto Fire, is urging people to stay away from the area near the North York Civic Centre as first responders are working at the scene.
“I think we are all unsettled and deeply disturbed,” Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne told reporters at Queen’s Park in Toronto. “I think its impossible not to be. It’s frightening.”
The premier said on Twitter that she is “heartbroken” and “Ontario is united in grief.”
Heartbroken to hear police confirm so many dead and injured today in Toronto. Ontario is united in grief. Our deepest condolences to the victims and their families. Provincial, municipal and federal officials continue to work closely together to investigate.
— Kathleen Wynne (@Kathleen_Wynne) April 23, 2018
Photos circulating on social media showed multiple bloodied bodies on the ground. Some of them were covered in orange tarps. A spokeswoman for Toronto Paramedic Services said “all resources” were being used and the public is being asked to stay away from the area.
Police said all of their resources have been deployed to the scene. North York Centre Subway Station has been closed, along with roads in the area.
The news of the incident was mentioned briefly during Question Period in the House of Commons in Ottawa.