Alek Minassian, 25, of Richmond Hill, was arrested on Monday after allegedly killing 10 people and injuring 15 others when he plowed into them on a busy Toronto sidewalk
The van driver accused of killing 10 people and injuring 15 when he plowed down pedestrians in Toronto has been described as a socially awkward tech expert.
Alek Minassian, 25, was arrested on Monday about 26 minutes after he allegedly drove a white rental van into a crowd and sent bodies flying.
Witnesses said Minassian was driving fast and appeared to be acting deliberately, but police said they did not yet know the cause or any possible motive.
While details are scarce, federal mounted police are not involved, meaning the motive is unlikely to be terrorism.
Multiple reports have suggested mental illness as a likely cause. It also appears Minassian had online discussions about Elliot Rodger, the Santa Barbara mass killer.
The name Minassian, or its alternative spelling Minasyan, is an Armenian name and more than 90 per cent of Armenians are Christians.
Authorities released few details about the case but did say Minassian was not previously known to police.
Footage has emerged showing an intense standoff between a Toronto police officer and the suspect behind the horror van rampage that left 10 dead and 15 injured on Monday
Moments later the footage, which was shot by a witness in a nearby car, shows the suspect lying face-down on the sidewalk as the police officer handcuffs him
Minassian lives in the Toronto suburb of Richmond Hill and LinkedIn profile described him as a student at Seneca College.
He was described by former classmates as socially awkward and a tech expert, according to the Globe and Mail.
Others described him as having a social or mental disability.
One classmate said that when he knew Minassian he couldn’t drive and didn’t know how to work a steering wheel.
Minassian attended a high school program for students with special needs where he would often walk the halls with his head down and hands tightly clasped, according to former classmates.
Shereen Chami, one of his ex-classmates, told Reuters that he was not violent.
She said Minassian was part of a program at Thornlea Secondary School, in Toronto’s northern suburbs, for high school students with special needs, attending a mix of mainstream and separate classes.
Chami remembers him walking the halls with his hands together and his head down, and making meowing noises.
‘He wasn’t a social person, but from what I remember he was absolutely harmless,’ she said.
Two other classmates said they attended classes for students with special needs alongside Minassian.
His arrest came soon after Minassian allegedly drove a rented van onto a crowded sidewalk on Yonge Street and started crashing into pedestrians
Witnesses said the driver was moving fast and appeared to be acting deliberately, but police said they did not yet know the cause or any possible motive
Minassian’s Facebook page could not be accessed through the social networking site. A bare-bones version available through the Internet Archive said he attended Seneca College from 2011 to April 2018, graduated from Thornlea secondary school in 2011 and listed software development under professional skills.
A September 2013 blog post said he had started to work at Seneca College’s Centre for Development of Open Technology. He posted about his progress developing software there until March 2014.
Footage of his arrest on Monday Minassian pointing an object at police on the street as he emerged from his white van.
The police officer can be heard repeatedly shouting: ‘Get down or you’ll be shot’ as the suspect continued to wave around the object.
Moments later the footage, which was shot by a witness in a nearby car, shows the suspect lying face-down on the sidewalk as the police officer handcuffs him.
Police have since confirmed that Minassian did not have a gun. It is not clear what he was pointing at the officer.
People embrace as they lay candles and leave messages at a memorial for victims of Monday’s crash
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