Our Community. Our Nation. Our World.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Toronto Police: 10 Killed, 15 Others Injured In Van Attack

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Ten people are dead and 15 more injured after a rental van mowed down pedestrians yesterday in Toronto, Canada. Police there say they have captured a suspect, 25-five-year-old Alek Minassian of suburban Toronto. Police Chief Mark Saunders said the driver's actions appeared to be deliberate but didn't offer any details of why this might have happened.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MARK SAUNDERS: At this particular point in time, there's nothing that does affect the national security footprint. We are looking very strongly to what the exact motive or motivation was for this particular incident to take place.

GREENE: All right, I want to bring in Christine Birak. She's host on the CBC's "World Report" in Toronto.

Hi, Christine.

CHRISTINE BIRAK: Good morning, David.

GREENE: So the police chief there saying no national security footprint affected - do we take that language that they are ruling out terrorism here?

BIRAK: Well, in not so many words, they pretty much have. You know, yesterday, having watched scenarios like this unfold in cities around the world, as you mentioned - man driving rental van, plowing through pedestrians - you can't help but think the worst. And I think a lot of Canadians were there yesterday. Many...

GREENE: Because many of those events were tied to supporters of the Islamic State, we should say.

BIRAK: Absolutely. And here in the media, we were being incredibly careful. And certainly, public officials were being careful not to label the incident as terrorism or a terror attack until they were sure. And very early on yesterday, the public safety minister came out and said while they weren't labeling it, they also found no national security threat related to this at that point and still at this point - seemingly senseless act.

GREENE: So do we know anything about this 25-year-old that would suggest why he may have done this?

BIRAK: Well, the suspect now in custody - as you mentioned, 25-year-old Alek Minassian - according to his social media profile, he's a college student developing a free-parking app. He also posted praise for a name people in California will recognize - Elliot Rodger, a strange figure online. You will recall - Isla Vista, Calif., Rodger killed six people near the campus of the University of California. And Minassian had posted praise for a video that Rodger had posted that lashed out after being turned down or rebuffed by women. Now, we're not - at this point, we're still investigating what link that may have. But that posting seems to have got people's attention.

Of course, we still don't know his motive. He is scheduled to appear in court this morning, so we're expecting that charges will be laid in the coming hours, which may shed some light on why. We're not sure if he's cooperating, but they'll be going through his phone, talking to his family. We've had reporters out talking to his neighbors in the community that he lived in, which is a suburb north of Toronto - and people not saying much about him, saying that they've seen him out jogging, they've talked to him here and there, but they also sort of gave the impression that something was a bit off about him.

GREENE: That van yesterday, Christine, went something - what? - like, two miles plowing people down. How are people in Toronto doing after watching that happen?

BIRAK: Well, Canadians are certainly rattled. There's a growing memorial at the scene. And everybody saw yesterday these bright orange sheets dotting what is usually a traffic-ridden roadway. And each of those sheets was shielding a body, a life that suddenly ended on that street. And Canadians are leaving messages of condolence for the victims and the families of the 10 people who were killed and 15 people who are still in hospital, many of them badly injured. So right now there is a collective, I think, sigh of relief that this is so far, as far as we know, not linked to terrorism. But there's also just an overwhelming sense of, why? Why did this happen?

GREENE: Now, I'm sure that's a question that everyone wants to ask. Christine Birak from the CBC, thanks.

BIRAK: You're very welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.