Alleged driver in van attack charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder and 13 counts of attempted murder with one more charge expected
UPDATED Wednesday, April 25 at 4:19 p.m. This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.
Toronto is reeling from a horrific attack yesterday when a van ran down dozens of pedestrians on a busy sidewalk on Yonge Street between Finch and Sheppard Avenues yesterday.
Clara Pasieka, the deputy returning officer for the Student Association of George Brown College (SA), grew up in the area and her parents still live nearby where the van attack occurred. She had stayed with her parents on Sunday night, and was planning on walking to the North York subway station close to the time of the attack. But because she had several things to carry, her mother insisted on driving her downtown.
When she arrived at George Brown’s St. James campus, Pasieka said her colleagues were watching news reports of the attack.
“I just said, ‘oh my god, I was just there. When did this happen?'”
This tragic event happened by my parents’ house that I stayed over at last night. If my mom & I had made a different decision @ lunch re her driving me 🏠 instead of me heading to subway on yonge, I might have been there…and maybe not here Sending❤2 Willowdale #TorontoStrong
— Clara Pasieka (@ClaraPasieka) April 24, 2018
Pasieka said it was shocking to learn about a such a loss of life in a neighbourhood she’s so familiar with, but having seen her mom and dad that day, there was some relief in knowing that they were okay immediately after the incident.
At a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, Dr. Dirk Huyer, chief coroner for Ontario, said that identifying the victims is a complex process and they were using scientific methods, such as dental records and DNA testing, before releasing the names which could take days.
Huyer said they have notified family members whose relatives they believe were killed in the attack but work is still needed to positively identify them.
Police say the types of injuries range from scrapes and bruises to “terrible injuries.”
Police say that a total of 10 people were killed and 14 injured, correcting an earlier total that they said was a miscount.
Alek Minassian, 25, has been charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder and 13 counts of second-degree murder. Police say one additional murder charge is expected.
He was arrested with no shots being fired by a police officer in a dramatic showdown that was captured on a cell phone video.
After multiple pedestrians plowed down on Toronto sidewalk, driver gets out holding what appears to be a gun. Police arrest him. No shots fired. pic.twitter.com/xWHeylS1d8
— Michel Boyer (@BoyerMichel) April 23, 2018
Police chief Mark Saunders said that all officers go through additional deescalation training but said the response of constable Ken Lam “was nothing short of remarkable.”
The first victim has been identified as Anne Marie D’Amico, who worked in the area at the Canadian Headquarters of Invesco, a U.S.-based investment management firm.
In a statement to CBC News, the D’Amico family described her as having “a generous heart and always did big things for people.”
To date, five victims in the deadly attack have been named including Chul Min (Eddie) Kang, who worked at Copacabana Brazilian Steakhouse.
Jung Eun Lee, a former dental hygiene student at George Brown College, knew Kang and said she was shocked to see him as a victim of Monday’s attack.
“He was a very kind, honest, caring and hardworking person,” Eun Lee said in a Facebook message.
Dorothy Sewell, 80, Renuka Amarasinghe, 48, Munir Najjar have also been identified among the 10 killed.
The names of those listed in court documents as injured are: Sammantha Samson, Samantha Peart, Morgan McDougall, Mavis Justino, Catherine Riddell, Aleksandra Kozhevinikova, Robert Anderson, Amir Kiumarsi, Yunsheng Tian, Jun Seok Park, Amaresh Tesfamariam, So Ra and Beverly Smith.
The Canadian Press is reporting that Seneca College says a female student was also among those killed and a South Korean news agency is reporting that two Korean nationals are among the dead.
Toronto Police have set up a hotline for anyone missing a friend or family member at 416-808-8085.
Facebook confirmed to Buzzfeed’s Jane Lytvynenko, who specializes in spotting fake news and internet hoaxes, that the post referencing Elliot Rodger, a mysoginist who killed six people in a mass shooting in California in 2014 was real.
A Facebook employee confirmed to me on background that the Alek Minassian Facebook post referencing 4chan and “The Incel Rebellion” is real: pic.twitter.com/gdydMBOE0l
— Jane Lytvynenko 🤦🏽♀️🤦🏽♀️🤦🏽♀️🤦🏽♀️ (@JaneLytv) April 24, 2018
Police said while the victims were predominately women, who ranged in age from their 20s to 80s, they are still investigating the motive behind the attack.
Toronto Mayor John Tory said in a statement that “Toronto is a city that will not be cowed, will not be afraid, and will not waiver in the values that we hold dear.”
Tuesday morning at city council, who cancelled their regular meeting scheduled for today after the mayor and some local councillors spoke on the tragedy, Tory said “We are not broken, and we will not be broken.”
At a press conference on Tuesday, Tory said that the city had partnered with the Toronto Foundation to establish a #TorontoStrong fund to help the victims and their families.
The Toronto sign at City Hall was dimmed and flags flown at half-mast at city locations.
The Toronto sign at City Hall will remain dimmed today in memory of all those who lost their lives in Monday’s horrific and deliberate attack. Official flags at Toronto City Hall, all Civic Centres & Metro Hall continue to be flown at half-mast.#TorontoStrong pic.twitter.com/38guqMaUqJ
— John Tory (@JohnTory) April 24, 2018
George Brown College posted a statement to social media saying “This morning we need to reflect on those who lost their lives, the injured and all the family members and friends whose lives have been impacted by this shocking incident. We also need to support the residents of the Yonge & Finch area and those present on the scene who witnessed this unspeakable act. The thoughts and condolences of the entire George Brown community are certainly with them all.”
The college also posted the contact information for any students who need counselling services on campus. The numbers for counselling offices on campus are (416) 415-5000, ext. 2107 (St. James); ext. 4585 (Casa Loma); ext. 5370 (Waterfront).
“As our lives carry on following such an event, it’s important that we are unified in our grief, our strength and our support for one another,” ends the statement by the college.
The Student Association of George Brown College (SA) posted a statement saying, “We stand in solidarity with everyone affected by the horrific attack in Toronto yesterday. Thank you to the first responders for their professionalism.”
They also posted information about counselling services available to students through their student health plan. Students can contact the Aspiria Student Assistance Program online or by phone at 1-877-234-5327.
Students and staff at the college have been posting messages of solidarity on social media.
The SA’s director of equity Alex Stewart sent prayers to the families.
Prayers go out to the families that have been affected by this savagery 🙏🏾
— LexisKanm✊🏾 (@KID_thedonlex) April 23, 2018
GBC’s Athletics and Recreation department was one of the first from the college to express condolences.
We stand with Toronto in sending our heartfelt condolences to those affected in today’s tragic event at Yonge and Finch. 💙
— GBC Athletics & Rec (@GBC_Huskies) April 24, 2018
GBC’s basketball head coach Jonathan Smith also sent his thoughts and prayers.
Thinking of all those affected in the Toronto attack yesterday. Our thoughts & prayers are with you all. #TorontoStrong
— Jonathan Smith (@COACHBIGJSMITH) April 24, 2018
GBC professor Amanda Munday posted that she was devastated.
10 people are dead. In our home. On a beautiful Monday afternoon. I’m devastated. Hard to believe tonight I’m using the hashtag #TorontoStrong
— Amanda Munday (@amandabella) April 24, 2018
An announcement by Mitzie Hunter, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development, that was scheduled to happen at George Brown College on Tuesday was cancelled.