Toronto Van Attack Suspect Is Charged with Murder


Still, the killings raised fears about Toronto’s vulnerability to a terrorist attack. The marauding van evoked memories of deadly vehicle rampages carried out by extremists in a number of major Western cities in recent years, including New York, London, Stockholm, Berlin, Barcelona and Nice, France.

At his court hearing Tuesday, asked by the judge, Stephen Weisberg, whether he understood the conditions of a court order not to contact any survivors, Mr. Minassian replied in a clear and loud voice, “Yes.”

He was dressed in a white jumpsuit with his hands cuffed behind his back. Seven uniformed police officers surrounded him in the hearing room.

Mr. Minassian was represented at the hearing by a court-appointed lawyer with whom he had an extended, whispered conversation from a prisoners box.

He is being held without bail.

A man who appeared to be Mr. Minassian’s father attended the hearing but offered no comment to reporters other than saying he had not spoken with him.

Witnesses and amateur cellphone videos that captured the rampage and the suspect’s arrest showed a horrific scene that traumatized Toronto, a showcase Canadian metropolis.

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Vic Minassian, the father of the suspect, Alek Minassian, attended a court hearing on Tuesday but offered no comment to reporters other than saying he had not spoken with his son.

Credit
Lars Hagberg/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

David Alce, a 53-year-old network engineer, was waiting at a traffic light at Yonge Street and Finch Avenue on his way to the park to enjoy a sunny day off when he saw a white van careening across the intersection.

Around 1:20 p.m., Mr. Alce said, his initial disbelief turned to shock and then horror as the speeding van cut through the intersection, mounted the curb and began to swerve and mow people down.

Mr. Alce saw the driver ram four people, he said, and then another four. One woman was thrown several feet into the air. A man was hit midsection before falling. Another was smashed in the head. The van made a roaring sound.

“At first I thought the driver was having a heart attack before I realized what was happening,” Mr. Alce said.

“I watched the car for a good two blocks,” he said. “I didn’t see the driver’s face. There was a loud bang as he hit the curb. There was confusion. Some people tended to the wounded. Others were on their cellphones. One woman was sobbing uncontrollably on the corner.”

Mr. Alce, for his part, went to see whether could help, rolling over some of the victims to see whether they were alive and administering CPR.

Mr. Alce, an Ottawa native, said he moved to Toronto about 20 years ago, drawn by the city’s peaceful atmosphere and lack of crime. He said the attack had destroyed the innocence of a multicultural, humanistic city.

“This is the first time I have seen something this horrific,” he said. “It is a loss of innocence. Toronto is peaceful. That is why I love it here.”

Other Torontonians, still in shock, were adamant that the city would quickly recover. On Tuesday morning, commuters heading to work were hunched over newspapers. “Carnage in Toronto,” said the front-page headline of The Globe and Mail.

As well-wishers continued to gather at an impromptu memorial near the scene of the attack, hazardous material cleanup teams wearing respirators and jump suits were using absorbent powder to remove bloodstains from the sidewalk.

Nancy Brooks, 56, who works in human resources for the Ontario government, often jogs through the area where the episode occurred. She said that in Canada, which prides itself on diversity and a spirit of tolerance, it was particularly jarring.

“This is not something that happens here,” she said. “We always think we are insulated from this kind of thing. We like to think we are like Switzerland.”

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