Ten people are dead and at least 15 others are injured after a van drove onto a sidewalk in Toronto’s North York neighborhood on Monday.
The driver was taken into custody shortly after the incident. Deputy Chief Peter Yuen of the Toronto police confirmed the number of fatalities during a press briefing on Monday afternoon.
Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders later identified the suspect as 25-year-old Alek Minassian, of Richmond Hill, Ontario. He said at a news conference Monday evening that the actions “definitely looked deliberate.”
Investigators were looking into terrorism as a possible motive behind the attack, Reuters reported, citing a U.S. security source. But government officials familiar with the investigation later said there was no evidence that the attack was linked to an organized terrorist group, the CBC reported.
“The events that happened on the street behind us are horrendous, but they do not appear to be connected in any way to national security based on the information available at this time,” Canada’s public safety minister, Ralph Goodale, said during a news briefing.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed his “great sadness” following the “tragic and senseless attack.”
“On behalf of all Canadians, I offer my heartfelt condolences to the loved ones of those who were killed, and my thoughts for a fast and full recovery to those injured,” Trudeau said in a statement. “We should all feel safe walking in our cities and communities.”
He also praised the “courage and professionalism” of first responders, who he said “faced danger without hesitation.”
The Toronto Police Operations Centre tweeted Monday afternoon that police were responding to an incident in which a “white van” had struck “numerous pedestrians” at the intersection of Yonge Street and Finch Avenue East just before 1:30 p.m. local time.
Alex Shaker, who was driving southbound on Yonge Street at the time of the incident, told CTV News Channel that he saw the van driving at a high speed on the sidewalk.
“He started going down on the sidewalk and crumbling down people one by one,” Shaker said Monday afternoon, noting that he saw the vehicle hit someone with a stroller.
“He just destroyed so many people’s lives,” he said. “Every single thing that got in his way.”
Police said the van mounted the curb, striking several pedestrians, before fleeing the scene, according to City News. Authorities apprehended the vehicle roughly a mile south of the collision, and the driver was taken into custody, a police department spokesperson confirmed to HuffPost.
Aerial footage appeared to show a white van from rental company Ryder that eyewitnesses identified as the vehicle from the incident.
“We are saddened by this tragic event, and our deepest sympathies go out to those impacted,” Ryder said in a statement. “We take the safety and security of our entire fleet very seriously and we are cooperating fully with authorities.”
The Toronto Star published video of the suspect’s arrest, apparently taken by a bystander. In it, the suspect appears to be holding an object in his hand and pointing it at police officers, though it is not clear what the object is.
Officers can be heard yelling at the suspect, identified as Minassian, to “get down or you’ll be shot,” according to The New York Times.
“Shoot me in the head,” he reportedly replied. He was later detained without any shots fired.
The area around the collision was closed to traffic on Monday afternoon after the incident. Subway service was also suspended in the area, CNN reported.
Toronto Mayor John Tory said in a press briefing that there would “likely be several days of disruption” in the area as the investigation continues. He asked that businesses and office buildings close for the remainder of the day and send employees home.
Tory also noted that the city was in the process of establishing two hotlines ― one for those worried about loved ones who may have been affected and a second for anyone with information that might help the police investigation.
In a statement late Monday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the people of the United States “stand with the Canadian people in the aftermath of today’s tragic event.”
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of those affected, and we wish a full recovery to those injured,” she said. “The United States government pledges to provide any support Canada may need.”
See more photos from the scene below:
Nick Robins-Early and Sarah Ruiz-Grossman contributed to this report.