The Canadian Bazaar
TORONTO: Even as 10 people were killed and 15 seriously injured when a man plowed a rental van through pedestrians on a city sidewalk on Monday, public safety minister Ralph Goodale virtually ruled it out as a terror act.
The killings do “not appear to be connected to any national security concerns,” minister Ralph Goodale said at a press conference with Premier Kathleen Wynne, Mayor John Tory and Toronto Police chief Mark Saunders.
The incident happened at about 1.30 pm during lunchtime on the first sunny day of the spring season when the van driver mounted the sidewalk of Toronto’s famous Yonge Street and mowed down the victims as he sped over a two-kilometre stretch till his van hit a bus shelter.
The whole stretch of the sidewalk on the city’s iconic street presented a ghastly scene as covered bodies of the victims lay scattered on it.
The van driver has been identified as 25-year-old Alek Minassian from the city of Richmond Hill on the outskirts of Toronto.
When a lone police officer chasing the van driver pointed his gun at him to surrender, the suspect told him that he had a gun.
As the police officer shouted `get down, get down or you will be shot,’’ the suspect shouted back: `kill me.”
Then the suspect first moved menacingly towards the police officer, then threw down what he had in his hands and surrendered.
This is the worst incident of mass killings in the history of Toronto city.
In a press conference later in the evening, Canadian public safety minister Ralph Goodale ruled it out as an act of terror.
The minister said the incident does “not appear to be connected to any national security concerns.’’
However, Toronto Police chief Mark Saunders said he was not ruling out anything at this stage. He said the killer was not known to the city police .
“There’s nothing on our files. There’s nothing that we have on him right now. It (the accident) looks intentional and as a result 10 people are now not with us,’’ the Toronto police chief said.
Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau said, “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.’’
Jagmeet Singh, leader of the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP), said, “Tragic news coming out of Toronto – my thoughts are with all those affected by the horrific events…’’
After Europe and the US, it is the first such incident in Canada.
Canada survived a major terror attack in 2006 when 18 people linked to al-Qaeda were arrested for plotting to kill the prime minister, blow up parliament and take MPs hostage.