ACCUSED IN VAN ATTACK WAS IN THE MILITARY FOR TWO MONTHS.
RAMPAGE ACCUSED SHOWED SIGNS OF A TROUBLED LIFE
The distressing scope of criminal allegations against Alek Minassian were revealed in a packed Toronto courtroom — 10 counts of first-degree murder and 13 counts of attempted murder — as glimpses of the man and a possible motive emerged after a rental van mowed through pedestrians along Toronto’s Yonge Street.
Just minutes before the van started its awful rampage along the sidewalks of one of Canada’s best known streets, deliberately striking pedestrians, Minassian posted a “cryptic message” on Facebook, said Toronto police Det.-Sgt. Graham Gibson.
The message says: “Private (Recruit) Minassian Infantry 00010, wishing to speak to Sgt 4chan please. C23249161. The Incel Rebellion has already begun! We will overthrow all the Chads and Stacys! All hail Supreme Gentleman Elliot Rodger!”
Decoding the post suggests a spark for the deadly trek may have been frustration over an inability to attract female companionship. The majority of the victims struck by the van were women.
At 25, Minassian, who lived with his parents and brother in a detached twostorey home in suburban Richmond Hill, just north of Toronto, is variously described as a failed soldier who dropped out of basic training, a socially awkward student in a special needs class in high school where he was known for acting like a cat, a long-standing college student, a computer whiz and app developer, video game enthusiast and a selfdeclared “incel.”
It is his apparent embrace of the incel movement that helps decipher his odd Facebook post, which Facebook has confirmed as a legitimate post from Minassian’s account that has since been taken down by the company.
“Incel,” or “involuntary celibate,” came into wide recognition in 2014 after Elliot Rodger, 22, killed six and injured 14 in Isla Vista, Calif., before killing himself. In a manifesto, he said he needed to punish women for rejecting him and sexually active men for their success where he failed.
Within the incel subculture, which typically veers towards deep misogyny, “Chads” refer to the sexually successful men and “Stacys” to unattainable women.
As news of Minassian’s connection spread, some self-professed incels embraced it as a call to arms.
Some members of an inceldedicated forum branded him “Saint Alek” and “St. Minassian.” Some suggested other ways to continue the attacks so the world of the sexually active would fear them.
“It is a good time to be an incel. Our brothers are launching their counter-attack, getting their revenge. Thank you,” one post reads. “They should be scared, this is what happens when you deny so many men love and affection for their entire lives,” said another.
Those who knew Minassian personally, if not well, did not pin him as a violent character. Oddball, challenged, awkward, weird, infantilized, but not violent.
When Minassian was a student at Thornlea Secondary School in nearby Thornhill, Ont., he stood out for his unorthodox behaviour.
“I had classes with him. He was mentally unstable back then. He was known to meow like a cat and try to bite people; this is one sad and confusing story,” Alexander Alexandrovitch said of his former classmate in a Facebook post.
Minassian was “never intentionally violent” in school, he added.
Reza Fakhteh described Minassian as a special education student who rarely socialized and had no obvious friends.
“I never heard him speak beyond meowing at people,” Fakhteh wrote in a Facebook message. “His movements were erratic and just strange overall. He acted like a cat in every way.”
Ari Blaff, another former classmate said he was “an odd guy.”
“He had several tics and would sometimes grab the top of his shirt and spit on it, meow in the hallways and say, ‘I am afraid of girls.’ It was like a mantra.”
While in high school, he was an avid video gamer. A defunct Steam account — a video game software platform — that appears to be Minassian’s says he is better at shooting games than strategy games.
Provincial records show the house belongs to Vahe and Sona Minassian. They bought the property in 1998 for $330,000. In a story published in 2009, a woman named Sona Minassian praised a local program for special-needs children. The story said her son, who isn’t named, lived “with a form of autism known as Asperger’s syndrome.”
In 2011, after high school graduation, Minassian enrolled at Seneca College in Toronto. A staff member at Seneca who had a few encounters with Minassian several years ago said he seemed to struggle with social interaction.
“He could have sort of normal conversation, but you could tell it wasn’t his strength,” said the staff member, who did not wish to be named. “It’s completely surreal to realize you know someone who (allegedly) killed 10 people.”
One of the victims was a student at Seneca. Minassian’s LinkedIn page lists him as enrolled at Seneca from 2011 to 2018.
Recently, Minassian joined the Canadian Armed Forces. A Department of National Defence spokesperson said he joined the army on Aug. 23, 2017, started his basic training at the military facility at Saint-Jean-surRichelieu, Que., in September and left the military on Oct. 25.
He had not progressed to weapons training by the time he was released.
His brief stint in the military also may shed light on his cryptic Facebook post. He identified himself as “Private (Recruit) Minassian Infantry 00010” — that would have been his rank as a newly recruited soldier and 00010 is the military’s designation for an infantryman.
Neighbours said they did not know the family well but often saw them while out and about.
Elaha Jamal, who lives nearby, said it was as if the parents had to supervise Minassian and his brother constantly, and would not let them roam free, sometimes even holding his brother by the shirt at the scruff of the neck.
“They were not OK,” she said. “They were an older couple but they took care of these boys like they were babies.”
PRIVATE (RECRUIT) MINASSIAN INFANTRY 00010, WISHING TO SPEAK TO SGT 4CHAN PLEASE. C23249161. THE INCEL REBELLION HAS ALREADY BEGUN! WE WILL OVERTHROW ALL THE CHADS AND STACYS! ALL HAIL SUPREME GENTLEMAN ELLIOT RODGER!
— MINASSIAN’S FACEBOOK PAGE
Vahe Minassian, the father of the man accused in Monday’s van rampage, is escorted by Toronto police from the courthouse on Tuesday after his son Alek’s first court appearance.
The Toronto-area home of Alek Minassian, the man accused in Monday’s van rampage that killed 10 people.