The Toronto attack suspect begged police to shoot him before being arrested in connection with the death of ten pedestrians killed after a van mounted a pavement.
As victims of the attack were left strewn across the street Alek Minassian, who has now been pictured, was locked in a tense police stand-off, during which video footage showed him telling officers he had a gun and shouting: "Shoot me in the head".
In the video Minassian shouts that he has a gun and then says: "Kill me." The officer, hailed a hero for not opening fire, declines and demands Minassian "get down" before he is arrested.
Witnesses described a van driver mounting a kerb and swerving to deliberately hit pedestrians, leaving a pushchair "split in half" and hitting people sitting on a bench. The suspect was later named by police as Minassian, a 25-year-old student.
Minassian appeared in court on Tuesday morning where a judge detained him on ten counts of murder and thirteen count of attempted murder.
Dressed in a white prison jumpsuit with a shaved head and his hands cuffed, he showed little emotion as the charges were read.
He did not enter a plea to the charges and was ordered to return to court on May 10.
Police have revealed the 25-year-old suspect was not known to intelligence agencies and that the incident was not being treated as a threat to national security.
The driver posted a "cryptic" Facebook message minutes before the van attack, police said on Tuesday night.
Facebook has confirmed a message linked to an account matching Minassian was posted publicly before the social network shut down his account.
The post referred to the "Supreme Gentleman Elliot Rodger" - the California gunman who killed six people in 2014.
Mark Saunders, the Toronto police chief, said the suspect had not been armed and that there was nothing so far to suggest terrorism as a motive.
"It's very clear from a general perspective that the actions looked deliberate," he said, describing how the van had driven on the wrong side of the road and mounted the pavement.
Numerous body bags were seen in the street after the attack, according to testimonies of people in the city, with one describing the scene as a “war zone”.
Investigators are appealing for information from the public. A hotline for witnesses to the incident will be announced later today. A separate hotline for family members will also be made available. ^js— Toronto Police (@TorontoPolice) April 23, 2018
There were also accounts of victims with faces “full of blood” and twisted limbs, with one witness suggesting the van drove more than half a mile hitting people.
The incident occurred in the Yonge Street and Finch Avenue area of the city, according to police, which is around 18 miles north of the city centre. It began around 1.30pm Toronto time on Monday.
Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, was attending a meeting of G7 ministers in the city, but the gathering was not near the site of the incident.
Map: Toronto van attack route
Our thoughts are with all those affected by the terrible incident at Yonge and Finch in Toronto. Thank you to the first responders working at the scene – we're monitoring the situation closely.— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) April 23, 2018
Justin Trudeau, the Canadian Prime Minister, said: "We're still gathering information and as soon as we can, we'll share more information with Canadians."
Mr Trudeau added: "Our thoughts are with all those affected by the terrible incident at Yonge and Finch in Toronto. Thank you to the first responders working at the scene – we're monitoring the situation closely".
Numerous witnesses, many of whom appeared shaken by the incident, described seeing the van swerving to hit pedestrians.
James Forrester saw the aftermath of the incident from the 19th floor of an office building where he works as a financial services representative with the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce.
“Police were just arriving, people were screaming, there were bodies on the ground, and I saw a lot of blood,” he told The Telegraph.
Mr Forrester described seeing three dead bodies on the pavement covered by orange sheets, about 10 ambulances, seven police cars and an estimated crowd of 30 onlookers.
He added that the white van travelled about two kilometres before it was stopped by police, and that as many as 40 people may have been hit.
Henry Miller, who lives in an apartment overlooking the street, told Sky News: "I heard a large amount of honking...and I stepped out onto the balcony to see what was causing the trouble and at this point I saw a lady lying on the floor and the van driving off with people running around trying to help her".
Mr Miller said the white van "[sped] probably 60-70mph down this major road, swerving to what I would say fairly deliberately hit pedestrians and swerving in and out of traffic before eventually careering off into one of the other side streets and out of view".
One witness described seeing a middle-aged man “barely moving” on the ground after being hit. He told CNN: “I feel sick to my stomach ... I’ve never seen anything like this before."
Kash Alavi, another witness, described seeing victims with faces “full of blood”, telling CNN that the legs of those hit had been "twisted and contorted".
Another witness speaking to the network who did not give his name became emotional describing how the van swerved to repeatedly hit pedestrians.
“He’s just hitting people one by one by one. It was a nightmare,” he said. The van “just went on the side walk and started hitting everyone”, he added.
The witness said seeing a pushchair “split in half” and a group of people sitting on a bench being hit by the van. He said what he had witnessed was like “a war zone”.
Justin Trudeau issues statement
The @TorontoPolice and first responders faced danger without hesitation today, and I want to thank them for their courage and professionalism. We’ll continue working with our law enforcement partners as the investigation continues.— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) April 24, 2018
Opposition leader praises emergency workers
Andrew Scheer, leader of the opposition Conservative Party, has issued a statement, extending his condolences to those who had lost loved ones in the attack and said the individual responsible should feel the full force of the law.
“We have all seen by now the incredible footage of a police officer staring down the attacker alone on a city street.
“The men and women of our police services represent the best of what it means to be Canadian, and today we thank them.
“I am confident that all Canadians stand in support of the people of Toronto as they come together to support families impacted by this tragedy. The stories of bravery, selflessness, and kindness that have emerged have been an inspiration to an entire nation.”
Police not ruling anything out
Mr Saunders is asked about sources saying police have ruled out a connection to Isil or international terrorism, but he won't be drawn.
"I'm not going to answer what the media are putting forward," he said. "We open lanes and we explore."
If there is no evidence to support a theory, he says, then it is closed - but not until then.
Actions 'looked deliberate'
Mark Saunders, the Toronto police chief, is taking questions from journalists. He says the suspect, Alek Minassian, was not known to police as far as he could tell so far. But he said the van had driven on the wrong side of the road and repeatedly mounted the kerb.
"It's very clear from a general perspective that the actions looked deliberate," he said.
He added that the suspect was not armed and that police were investigating whether he had accomplices.
'No national security connection'
Speaking to the media, Ralph Goodale, Canadian Public Safety Minister, said so far there was "no national security connection to this particular incident".
However, officials are at pains to say the investigation is at an early stage.
Increased death toll
City officials are briefing the media now. Key points from Mark Saunders, the Toronto police chief, so far:
- Male suspect arrested "without incident"
- Named as Alek Minassian, a 25-year-old student from Richmond Hill
- Increased death toll - 10 dead and 15 wounded and in hospital
Passers-by set up memorial
An impromptu memorial has been set up close to the scene of the deaths. We are expecting a news briefing any minute to bring us up to date with happened.
Police at suspect's home
Police now inside home of Toronto van suspect. Alek Minassian lives in Richmond Hill, north of Toronto. (Picture by CBC's Natalie Nanowski). pic.twitter.com/DGPAB8VfZa— CBC News Alerts (@CBCAlerts) April 23, 2018
Sources suggest terrorism an unlikely motive
A senior national government official later said that authorities had not turned over the investigation to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, a sign that investigators believed it unlikely terrorism was the motive, according to the Associated Press. The official agreed to reveal that information only if not quoted by name.
Three sources tell us: Toronto suspect is Alek Minassian, 25 Years Old, deliberate act influenced by mental illness leading theory. He allegedly researched past 2014 incident in CA.— jonathan dienst (@jonathan4ny) April 23, 2018
Threat level unchanged
Ralph Goodale, Canadian Public Safety Minister, said he had no evidence to suggest Canada's national threat level needed to be raised following today’s attack in Toronto.
"There is no information available to me at the present time that would indicate a change in the risk level," Mr Goodale told reporters in Toronto, where he is attending the G7 foreign and security ministers meeting.
Suspect named by media as Alek Minassian
The suspect in the Toronto van attack that killed nine people and injured 16 others is a 25-year-old man named Alek Minassian, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation said on Monday.
He is believed to be a student at Seneca College in Toronto.
He reportedly lives in Richmond Hill, north of Toronto.
'This has never happened here'
Phil Zullo was headed north driving along Yonge Street, Toronto’s main artery, early Monday afternoon when he saw a bus shelter down, poles bent over, shoes along the road, “and then body after body after body” for a three-block stretch.
“People were mangled on the sidewalk.
“At first I saw what I thought was a stroller – and said to myself ‘please don’t make me see a kid,’ but I got closer and saw it was a walker," said Mr Zullo, 47, who runs a fitness facility in the city and estimated that he saw between 10 and 15 bodies on the ground.
“I called my wife and said, ‘I think I just saw a terrorist attack.’”
He said that thousands of people live and work in the area, and that dozens of police officers and emergency responders converged on the scene “from everywhere” providing CPR to the victims.
“It was as if they had done this a hundred times. These guys were unbelievable.”
Mr Zullo also saw the suspect, leaning against a police cruiser, surrounded by three officers who handcuffed him.
He described the man as dark-skinned, clean-shaven, bald and wearing glasses. The man reportedly pointed his cellphone at police as if it were a weapon.
“This has never happened here,” said Mr Zullo. “But why not us?”
Facebook activates emergency response
Users in the area can check in and let friends know they are safe here
Canadians call for unity
Toronto just proved how rare it stands in North America, and even the world.— Muhammad Lila (@MuhammadLila) April 23, 2018
No shots fired. No mass panic. Suspect peacefully arrested. No security lockdown. No system-wide transit shutdown or politicians rushing to lay blame.
Don't give people trying to use today's tragedy in Toronto for political gain a platform. Especially the ones who are commenting from the outside. They want attention, controversy, and divisiveness. Let's focus on being there for each other, which is what this city does best.— Jeff Veillette (@JeffVeillette) April 23, 2018
Canadians at home and all around the world are doing their Canadian thing, keeping calm and not jumping to conclusions.
Additional security at ice hockey game
The Toronto Maple Leafs are playing the Boston Bruins in a play-off game tonight. The club has announced extra security for the night:
The Toronto Maple Leafs and (Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment) are keeping all of those impacted by today’s tragic incident in Toronto in our thoughts and prayers. Our organisation continuously works in close partnership with Toronto Police Service, and other security agencies, to ensure the safety of all fans attending games at Air Canada Centre, including playoff tailgate events at Maple Leaf Square. In addition to the safety measures already in place, Toronto Police Service will be implementing a number of additional measures including road closures surrounding Air Canada Centre tonight to create the safest environment for our fans watching in Maple Leaf Square, as well as providing enhanced security inside Air Canada Centre.
'Shoot me in the head'
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
This is the extraordinary moment when a suspect is arrested. Filmed by an anonymous witness and passed to CTV News, a man appears to tell police he has a gun and asks them to shoot him.
Social media is buzzing with comments written by American viewers incredulous that the man was taken alive.
Orange shrouds on the street
Is terrorism the motive?
The Associated Press is quoting an unnamed US security source saying that investigators are examining terrorism as the likely motive.
The source said there was no reason to believe that the incident in which a Ryder rental van plowed into a crowd was an accident.
Minister: No known threat to G7 talks
Canada's minister for public safety, Ralph Goodale, was asked at the G7 meeting whether the government had received any threats or information to suggest that the talks might be targeted.
"No, not to my knowledge," he said.
Helicopter footage shows aftermath
International ministers were meeting elsewhere in city
The incident occurred as ministers from the major industrial countries were gathered in Canada to discuss a range of international issues in the run-up to the G7 meeting near Quebec City in June.
Currently in Toronto attending the G7 Security Ministers meeting. My thoughts are with all those caught up in the incident today in this fine City. #G7— Ben Wallace MP (@BWallaceMP) April 23, 2018
A city in mourning
The Toronto Sign has been dimmed and the official flags at Toronto City Hall, all Civic Centres and Metro Hall will be flown at half-mast until further notice to mark the tragic events that took place today. pic.twitter.com/4fNVQbEiJb— City of Toronto (@TorontoComms) April 23, 2018
Appeals for eye witnesses
Peter Yuen, Toronto Police's acting chief, said officers arrived on the scene after receiving multiple calls indicating a van was "striking a number of pedestrians".
"We have located that vehicle, the driver is in custody right now and he is being investigated to the events that took place this afternoon," Mr Yuen told reporters.
"I want to offer my condolences to the families of the victims of this tragic event. We can confirm right now that we have nine people that are dead, sixteen that are injured. "I can assure the public that all available resources have been brought in to investigate this situation." Mr Yuen appealed for eye witnesses to contact police in order to help with their enquiries.
The city's police chief, Mark Saunders, who was in New York at the time of the incident, travelled back to Toronto on Monday night to oversee the investigation.
Mayor calls for calm
The city's mayor, John Tory, appealed for calm in the aftermath of the incident as he praised the “professionalism” and “thoroughness” of the emergency services, saying he hoped the city’s “spirit of unity” would continue after the incident.
"I hope that we will as a city remind ourselves of the fact that we are admired around the world for being inclusive, and for being accepting, understanding and considerate," Mr Tory said.
Ryder rental van involved in incident
Claudia Panfil, a spokeswoman for Ryder Systems, confirmed that one of the company's rental vehicles was involved in Monday's tragedy.
Ms Panfil said the company was co-operating with authorities.