Alek Minassian, 25, has been identified as the person responsible for killing nine people and injuring many more after he rammed a van into a crowd of pedestrians. Witnesses at the scene said he appeared to be deliberately targeting pedestrians along Yonge St. near Finch Ave. CBS News was first to report Minassian’s identity.
According to Toronto police spokesperson Gary Long, a witness told police that Alek Minassian hit up anywhere from eight to 10 people. Police were initially called to the intersection at Yonge and Finch for a report of a collision around 1:27 p.m. local time. Alek Minassian fled the scene after the attack but was arrested shortly thereafter.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted: “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.”
In the attack, Minassian used a rented Ryder vehicle. Video from the scene shows Minassian telling police that he “has a gun in his pocket” as they attempt to bring him into custody.
Minassian’s specific motive remains unclear at this time.
Former NYC Police commissioner Bill Bratton told MSNBC that Minassian was previously known to authorities before the attack as a potential terror suspect.
A public LinkedIn profile with the name Alek Minassian says that he was a student at Seneca College, although it has yet to be confirmed if that is the same Alek Minassian responsible for the attack.
Alek Minassian is in custody and the van has been located, Toronto Police media representative Gary Long said. A law enforcement official briefed on the situation in Toronto tells CNN the incident is believed to be deliberate.
Seven patients from the incident were received at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. The hospital was unable to provide details on the severity of those injuries. Stephen Powell, district chief for Toronto Fire, confirmed that there have been multiple casualties. A large presence of Toronto fire, police and EMS personnel are on the scene, Powell said.
The incident happened in the North York area at the intersection of Yonge Street and Finch Avenue, police said. Powell said the suspect covered between a half-mile and a mile in the vehicle.
Chelsea Luelo, who works at Capriccio Café, saw the incident and said she thought the driver was hitting people intentionally. “It looked like he was going straight, halfway through the sidewalk,” Luelo said.
The van attack in Toronto comes six months after a similar attack in New York City killed eight people. On October 31, 2017, 29-year-old Sayfullo Saipov drove a rented pickup truck down a New York City bicycle path, killing eight and injuring up to a dozen.
This story is developing. Please refresh for updates.