Ram­page vic­tims mostly women

Sus­pect’s frus­tra­tion with re­la­tion­ships to be part of the probe, po­lice say

Toronto Star - - YONGE ST. RAMPAGE - WENDY GIL­LIS AND BETSY POW­ELL STAFF REPORTERS With files from Sab­rina Nanji and Jen­nifer Yang Wendy Gil­lis can be reached at [email protected]­tar.ca

The ma­jor­ity of the vic­tims in Mon­day’s deadly Yonge St. ram­page are fe­male, but there is no ev­i­dence that the driver was ex­pressly aim­ing the ve­hi­cle at women, the lead homi­cide in­ves­ti­ga­tor on the case told reporters.

Toronto po­lice Det.-Sgt. Gra­ham Gib­son also said in­ves­ti­ga­tors are look­ing into a “cryp­tic” Face­book mes­sage the ac­cused killer al­legedly posted just be­fore he “de­lib­er­ately” struck pedes­tri­ans in on Yonge — but stressed the in­ves­ti­ga­tion is in its early stages.

Speak­ing at a news con­fer­ence Tues­day in­side the Toronto po­lice au­di­to­rium, packed with lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional press, Gib­son pro­vided de­tails from the first 24 hours of an in­ves­ti­ga­tion — a mas­sive probe be­ing con­ducted with the help of out­side po­lice agen­cies.

Alek Mi­nas­sian, a 25-year-old with no prior crim­i­nal record, stands ac­cused of first-de­gree mur­der in the deaths of 10 peo­ple, whose names have not yet been re­leased pend­ing iden­tifi- ca­tion of bod­ies.

That process that will likely take a few more days, Dr. Dirk Huyer, chief coroner for On­tario, told reporters at the con­fer­ence. Some fam­i­lies have been told that of­fi­cials “be­lieve” their loved one has died but con­fir­ma­tion has not been made as of­fi­cials are work­ing to have100 per cent ac­cu­racy.

Mi­nas­sian is also charged with 13 counts of at­tempted mur­der, with a four­teenth charge ex­pected to be laid shortly. The in­juries range from “scrapes and bruises to ter­ri­ble in­juries that I won’t get into dis­cussing here,” Gib­son said.

The Rich­mond Hill man ap­peared briefly in court hand­cuffed and in a white jump­suit, his eyes dart­ing around but oth­er­wise wear­ing a poker face. A man be­lieved to be Mi­nas­sian’s fa­ther was in court and es­corted out by po­lice, sur­rounded by a throng of me­dia.

Mi­nas­sian is ac­cused of jump­ing the side­walk with a rented van and ram­ming pedes­tri­ans along a two-kilo­me­tre stretch of Yonge St., be­tween Shep­pard Ave. and Finch Ave. on Mon­day af­ter­noon.

Ac­cord­ing to Gib­son, Mi­nas­sian rented the ve­hi­cle that morn­ing at a Ry­der truck fa­cil­ity just north of Toronto. Shortly there­after, he made his way to Finch and Yonge; in­ves­ti­ga­tors are now try­ing to de­ter­mine what Mi­nas­sian did in the in­terim.

The first 911 call about the ram­page came in at 1:25 p.m., and by 1:32 Mi­nas­sian was ar­rested. On Mon­day, po­lice wrongly said the time be­tween the first 911 call and the ar­rest was 26 min­utes, an er­ror caused by the chaos of cat­a­logu­ing mul­ti­ple emer­gency calls, a po­lice spokesper­son said.

In wit­ness video posted on­line, shortly be­fore the ar­rest the driver ap­pears to ditch the ve­hi­cle and has a stand­off with a po­lice of­fi­cer on Poyntz Ave. south of Shep­pard Ave., yelling “shoot me in the head” and claim­ing to have a gun in his pocket.

The ar­rest­ing of­fi­cer who has been widely praised for his han­dling of the sit­u­a­tion is Const. Ken Lam, the Star has con­firmed.

The vic­tims who lay wounded and dead in the van’s wake are “pre­dom­i­nantly” fe­male, and range in age from mid-20s up to 80s, Gib­son said.

While he stressed that there was no ev­i­dence that the driver was de­lib­er­ately aim­ing at women, the de­tec­tive said Mi­nas­sian al­legedly posted a “cryp­tic mes­sage on Face­book” min­utes be­fore he be­gan driv- ing the rented van.

The mes­sage is a post al­legedly made by Mi­nas­sian, cir­cu­lat­ing on so­cial me­dia in the hours af­ter the ram­page, that ref­er­ences “in­cel” and in­vokes U.S. mass mur­derer El­liot Rodger. “In­cel” refers to an on­line com­mu­nity of the “in­vol­un­tar­ily celi­bate,” or men who feel frus­trated by their in­abil­ity to find ro­man­tic re­la­tion­ships or sex.

A spokesper­son for Face­book Canada said it im­me­di­ately deleted the sus­pect’s ac­count Mon­day af­ter­noon.

Gib­son said po­lice would be tak­ing the post into con­sid­er­a­tion as the in­ves­ti­ga­tion pro­gresses. Asked if the sus­pect was frus­trated with his re­la­tion­ships with women, Gib­son said it would be part of the probe, and he de­clined to com­ment when asked about the ref­er­ence to Rodger, the U.S. mass mur­derer, in the al­leged post by Mi­nas­sian.

NATHAN DENETTE/THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

A man be­lieved to be Vahe Mi­nas­sian, the sus­pect’s fa­ther, at­tends Alek Mi­nas­sian’s first court ap­pear­ance on Tues­day.

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