Murder charges laid in deadly Toronto van attack

Murder charges laid in deadly Toronto van attack

WATCH: Police say the victims of a horrific Toronto van attack were “predominately female” and the suspect, 25-year-old Alek Minassian, is now charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder. Tess van Straaten reports.

A makeshift memorial near the deadliest attack in Toronto history drew large crowds on Tuesday, as people try to come to terms with the tragedy.

“I feel so bad,” Sarah Shao says. “I saw the pictures, people lying down on the road, and this road I walk every day.”

People brought flowers, lit candles and shared messages of support at the memorial, which is at the corner of Yonge and Finch.

“One note that was pointed out to me was, ‘we don’t know you but we love you’ and that’s the essence of what all these messages are,” says Ontario premier Kathleen Wynn.

Ten people were killed and 14 others injured after a man drove a rented van at high speed into pedestrians along Canada’s busiest street.

“The accused is alleged to have posted a cryptic message on Facebook minutes before he started driving the rented van and he drove it southbound on Yonge street and onto the crowded sidewalks,” says Toronto Police Detective-Sgt. Graham Gibson. “He continued to drive southbound on Yonge, deliberately striking pedestrians on the sidewalk and roadway.”

Police say the victims were ‘predominantly female’ but it’s not yet clear if the suspect, 25-year-old Alek Minassian of Richmond Hill, was intentionally targeting women.

Expressionless and wearing a white jump suit, Minassian made his first court appearance Tuesday morning. He’s charged with 10 counts of first degree murder and 13 counts of attempted murder, with a 14th count expected soon. But the motive behind the carnage remains unknown.

“As you can imagine, the investigation is incredibly detailed and on-going and because the accused has been charged, I’m limited from discussing any evidence involved in the investigation, including any questions pertaining to motive,” says Gibson.

Minassian had no prior criminal record but former classmates say he had mental health issues and was bullied. He briefly joined the Canadian military last August but asked to leave after just 16 days. Officials say he didn’t adapt to military discipline but those that knew him say the van attack comes as a total shock.

Minassian?s next court appearance is May 10th. He’ll remain in custody until then.

As Canadians try to make sense of the tragedy, Toronto is rallying.

“We’re seeing what the city is made of today, in terms of its moral fiber and spirit,” Toronto Mayor John Tory says. “People are showing the world our best in our darkest days.”

A GoFundMe page has been set up for the victims of the van attack. The City of Toronto is also partnering with the Toronto Foundation for a #TorontoStrong fund.

Tess van StraatenTess van Straaten

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