While police still have not released the name of the perpetrator of the car ramming in Toronto on Monday, that left nine people dead and 16 injured, various details about him are emerging in media, who are citing security sources.
CBC News reports that the man behind the wheel of the van that plowed into pedestrians on Yonge Street and Finch Avenue East was identified as Alek Minassian. City authorities have yet to name the suspect officially, with Toronto police chief Mark Saunders returning from New York for a scheduled press conference.
According to CBC News, the suspect was from Richmond Hill, Ontario, a half-hour drive from Toronto. Citing officials with knowledge of the investigation, CBC reported that the suspect is not known to have links to any organized terrorist group.
The way the incident unfolded suggests the suspect was acting deliberately, US law enforcement sources told CBS News, citing reports by witnesses. A US security source told Reuters that the investigators believe the incident is likely an act of terrorism, adding that nothing indicates that the assailant was not acting on purpose.
Accounts by the witnesses who spoke to RT indicate that the driver intended to crash into everything in his path.
“He just went on the sidewalk. He just started hitting everybody. He hit every single person on the sidewalk; any person in his way. The bus stop, everything, all shattered,” a man on the scene told RT.
However, the Canadian government so far has been cautious in speaking about a possible motive behind the perpetrator’s actions. Ralph Goodale, Canada’s Minister of Public Safety, said earlier that the government had not issued a terrorism alert, noting that it is still too early to speculate on motives or causes.
Minassian mowed down pedestrians on Monday afternoon, then fled the scene before being apprehended by police officers several blocks away. Police earlier confirmed that one suspect was taken into custody, without specifying the extent of the charges.
At least nine people have been killed in the incident and 16 more have been injured, including five who were admitted to Toronto’s Sunnybrook Hospital in a critical condition.
Police have appealed to the public to provide any relevant information concerning the case. It is expected that an on-site investigation will take “several days,” police cautioned, warning that the area would continue to be on lockdown.