TORONTO (AP) — A rented van jumped onto a crowded Toronto sidewalk Monday, killing 10 people and injuring 15 before the driver fled and was quickly arrested in a confrontation with police, Canadian authorities said.
Witnesses said the driver was moving fast and appeared to be acting deliberately, but police said they did not yet know the cause or any possible motive.
Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders also has released the name of the purported driver detained after Monday’s incident.
The suspect is identified as Alek Minassian, a 25-year-old from the Toronto suburb of Richmond Hill.
Authorities have not said publicly if the vehicle collisions were intentional. But a law enforcement official briefed on the situation in Toronto told CNN the incident is believed to be deliberate.
The incident happened in the North York area at the intersection of Yonge Street and Finch Avenue, police said.
The suspect covered between a half-mile and a mile in the vehicle, said Stephen Powell, district chief for Toronto Fire.
Seven patients from the incident were received at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. The hospital was unable to provide details on the severity of those injuries.
In recent years, individuals have driven vehicles into crowds of pedestrians in fatal attacks in major cities including Barcelona, New York, London and Nice.
Chelsea Luelo, who works at Capriccio Café, saw the incident and said she thought the driver was hitting people intentionally.
“It looked like he was going straight, halfway through the sidewalk,” Luelo said.
‘Pandemonium broke loose’
Mary Tan shared two photos showing people injured in the incident.
A witness, Raj Irshad, said he saw multiple bodies on the ground.
Irshad works at an Esso gas station about a block from where the van is reported to have driven onto the sidewalk. He said he did not see the initial collision but saw the aftermath. He also saw multiple emergency vehicles in front of his gas station.
One witness told CNN network partner CTV that he was out for a cigarette when he saw the van hit a man walking through the intersection.
“And then, just pandemonium broke loose, just everyone was going crazy,” he said. The vehicle was going 60 to 70 kph, he estimated.
One witness, who was driving at the time, said he at first thought the driver was having a heart attack until he saw the white van speeding and striking people on the sidewalk.
“He’s just hitting people one by one, going down,” the witness said. “It’s a nightmare.”
Bersat Noorai, the manager of Taftan Kebab, said he saw the white van hit the bench in front of his restaurant. He then ran outside and saw two or three people on the ground.
One man, who appeared to be in his early 20s, was losing a lot of blood, and Noorai said he brought him a towel and water and called 911.
‘She’s face down on the concrete’
Another witness, Christian Ali, said he came onto the scene and saw bodies and evidence of the destruction.
He first saw a man unconscious at the side of the road and figured it was a terrible accident after he saw debris from a car.
“Two blocks over, I saw another gentleman unconscious in the middle of the road and a policeman leaning over him holding his neck,” Ali said.
About a block up, he saw a woman who looked like she had died.
“She’s face down on the concrete, a lot of fluid coming out of her head,” Ali said.
“About 20 seconds after that, I came upon a crowd of about 30 people … probably about five people on the ground, bleeding,” he said, adding that pedestrians were performing CPR.
Prime Minister Trudeau: ‘Our hearts go out to anyone affected’
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said early Monday afternoon that he was just learning about the incident.
“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.
Toronto Mayor John Tory said there was a tragic incident on Yonge Street.
“My thoughts are with those affected by this incident and the front-line responders who are working to help those injured,” he said.