Suspect in Toronto van attack identified as Alek Minassian: All you need to know about the Richmond Hill resident

Canadian authorities have identified 25-year-old Alek Minassian as a suspect in the deadly Toronto van attack that left 10 people dead and 15 others injured.

The suspect in a rented van ploughed down a Toronto sidewalk crowded with lunchtime strollers on Monday.

Minassian was arrested in a tense but brief confrontation with officers after he fled the scene. He resides in the Toronto suburb of Richmond Hill. Here is a look at the 25-year-old.

He appears to have acted deliberately

Toronto's police chief said the incident appeared to be deliberate.

Police chief Mark Saunders made the comment at a news conference on Monday night hours after the attack. Saunders said, "The incident definitely looked deliberate."

A body lies covered on the sidewalk in Toronto after a van mounted a sidewalk crashing into a number of pedestrians on Monday. AP

A body lies covered on the sidewalk in Toronto after a van mounted a sidewalk crashing into pedestrians on Monday. AP

Witnesses also alleged that the suspect appeared to intentionally jump a curb in the North York neighbourhood as people filled the sidewalks. He is said to have continued for more than a mile, knocking out a fire hydrant and leaving bodies strewn in his wake.

Ali Shaker, who was driving near the van at the time, told Canadian broadcast outlet CP24 that the driver appeared to be moving deliberately through the crowd at more than 30 mph.

"He just went on the sidewalk," Shaker said. "He just started hitting everybody, man. He hit every single person on the sidewalk. Anybody in his way he would hit."

Witness Peter Kang told CTV News that the driver did not seem to make any effort to stop.

"If it was an accident, he would have stopped," Kang said. "But, the person just went through the sidewalk. He could have stopped."

Minassian's motive is unclear

Officials would not comment on a possible motive except to play down a possible connection to terrorism, a thought that occurred to many following a series of attacks involving trucks and pedestrians in Europe and the presence in Toronto this week of Cabinet ministers from the G7 nations.

Saunders said the 25-year-old had not been known to police previously.

Asked if there was any evidence of a connection to international terrorism, the chief said only, "Based on what we have, there's nothing that has it to compromise the national security at this time."

But, a senior national government official, on condition of anonymity, said earlier that authorities had not turned over the investigation to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, a sign that investigators believed it unlikely that terrorism was the motive.

The 25-year-old appeared to threaten police with an object

Video broadcast on several Canadian outlets showed police arresting the 25-year-old, dressed in dark clothes, after officers surrounded him and his rental Ryder van several blocks from where the incident occurred in the North York neighborhood of northern Toronto.

He appeared to make some sort of gesture at the police with an object in his hand just before they ordered him to lie down on the ground and took him away.

The Huffington Post reported that a video obtained by Storyful appeared to show Minassian pointing an object at a police officer and asking to be shot. He seemed to warn the police that he was carrying a gun in his pocket, to which the officer responds, "I don't care ... Get down or you'll be shot."

Saunders lauded the officer for arresting Minassian without incident. He said there was nothing to indicate that Minassian was actually carrying a gun.

With inputs from AP

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Updated Date: Apr 24, 2018 09:18 AM

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