Toronto vehicular attacker identified as Alek Minassian

Alek Minassian, 25, has been identified by CBS News as the person arrested by police on suspicion of driving a white Ryder van into a crowd of pedestrians in Toronto this afternoon, killing multiple people. Witnesses said the driver was traveling fast when he jumped a curb and hit “everything in his path.” When police arrested him after he fled the scene, he approached them with what appeared to be a gun in his hand. Officials are saying that the act was deliberate. The motive in the crash is not yet known, but early reports indicate the driver hit the pedestrians deliberately.

Here’s what you need to know about Minassian and what happened in Canada today. This is a developing story and more details about Minassian will be added as they are available.

1. MINASSIAN WAS KNOWN TO LAW ENFORCEMENT AND MAY HAVE PREVIOUSLY RESEARCHED KILLINGS IN ISLA VISTA, CALIFORNIA
Alek Minassian was named by CBS News sources as the suspect who was arrested in connection with the horrific van accident. He is 25 years old. The suspect was previously known to law enforcement in Toronto, CNN reported.

Jonathan Dienst of NBC News reported that Minassian had allegedly researched and chatted online about the Isla Vista killings in California in 2014. The Isla Vista massacre occurred when 22-year-old Elliot Rodger killed six people and injured 14. He stabbed three men in his apartment, and then drove to a sorority house and shot three female students outside. Then Rodger drove to a deli and shot a male student, and then began driving through the city, shooting pedestrians and hitting some with his car. He was found with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

Toronto police confirmed that nine people died after a white van struck a crowd of people at Yonge Street and Finch Avenue East around 1:30 p.m. CBS News sources revealed that Minassian is the person suspected of driving that van. The van was traveling southbound and mounted the curb, hitting numerous people who were on the sidewalk, CTV News reported. Witnesses said the man drove onto the sidewalk multiple times.

Alex Shaker, who witnessed the crash, said he believed the driver hit someone with a stroller, CTV reported. “He just destroyed so many people’s lives; every single thing that got in his way,” Shaker said.

Police said that 16 other people were injured in the attack.

This is a busy area north of downtown Toronto. Yonge Street is one of the main thoroughfares in Toronto.

2. MINASSIAN, 25, WAS ARRESTED AFTER FLEEING THE SCENE AND PULLING WHAT LOOKED LIKE A GUN ON POLICE
Witnesses said the vehicle drove up to a half-mile to a mile while it was hitting people, CNN reported. The driver of the van fled the scene and residents were urged to avoid the area. Subway service in that area was suspended. Minassian, 25, was later arrested, according to CBS News. You can see a video of Minassian’s arrest below.

The suspect was arrested just moments after a white van hit multiple pedestrians. Peter Akman with CTV National News said that it looked like he pulled a gun on the police, but he was arrested without any shots being fired.

3. NOT MUCH IS KNOWN ABOUT THE SUSPECT, AND SOCIAL MEDIA PROFILES HAVE NOT YET BEEN CONFIRMED
At this time, not much is known about the suspect, and possible social media profiles have not yet been confirmed. A Steam profile under the name Alek Minassian has been found, but it hasn’t been used in years. A screenshot of the profile is below, but again, it is not known if this profile belonged to the same person who was arrested today.

The Steam profile was last used in 2010. The profile reads: “I love the Halo games. My favourite game is Halo 3 because it has matchmaking. My next favourite is ODST because Firefight is awesome! Halo Wars has matchmaking but I’m better at FPSs than RTSs. Halo 2 is a nice game even though Xbox Live Original has been discontinued. Good thing I downloaded all the maps! I also like Halo: CE because it is an EPIC classic. I also can’t wait for the release of Halo: Reach on September 14!”

A LinkedIn profile and an app developer profile have also been found under the name Alek Minassian but Heavy has not confirmed if those belong to the accused driver.

4. OFFICIALS SAID THE CRASH WAS DELIBERATE, BUT MENTAL ILLNESS MAY BE THE LEADING THEORY RIGHT NOW
At this time, officials have not determined a motive for the horrific crash. But U.S. law enforcement officials told CBS News that the incident appeared to be a deliberate act. Bill Bratton, a former New York City police commissioner, told MSNBC that his sources said that driver was known to police and it was being considered a terrorist attack.

However, not everyone has agreed with this assessment. Toronto police spokeswoman Meaghan Gray said, “At this point it’s too early to tell what if any motive there was.”

Jonathan Dienst from NBC News reported that three officials were saying the leading theory for today’s horrific crash was mental illness.

But witnesses felt certain it was an intentional act. Nick Sanka told Global News that the driver appeared to be in control. “He did seem to have control over what he was doing,” he said. “So it wasn’t some sort of impairment where he was swerving. He just (drove) straight through — and he managed to make a perfect turn at that corner as well.”

A witness to the crash, Alex Shaker, said the van was traveling at a high rate of speed when it hit the pedestrians, CTV News reported. Shaker said: “He started going down on the sidewalk and crumbling down people one by one.” Another witness said who drove past and saw shoes and hats everywhere.

The van that the suspect was driving was a rented Ryder vehicle.

Henry Miller, who witnessed the crash, told Sky News that he thought the van was driving 60 to 70 km/h and was swerving in and out of traffic. “I would say (it) fairly deliberately hit pedestrians … before eventually careering off into one of the other side streets and out of view.” He said he saw the van swerving across four lanes at a high speed.

Mark Dukes, who works at Procter and Gamble near where the suspect was arrested, told CNN that he looked outside and saw a van surrounded by police officers….

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