TORONTO — A van struck and killed 10 pedestrians Monday afternoon in north Toronto and the driver fled the scene, Canadian police said. Fifteen others were injured in the incident. Authorities said the van has been found and the driver was in custody. Police said they did not yet know the cause or any possible motive.
CBS News sources identified the suspect as Alek Minassian, 25, and obtained a photo of him from social media Monday.
Officials increased the death toll during a press conference Monday night.
U.S. law enforcement sources told CBS News that the incident appears to be a deliberate act. Witnesses said the driver was moving fast and appeared to be acting deliberately.
Witness Peter Kang told CTV News that the driver did not seem to make any effort to stop.
“If it was an accident he would have stopped,” Kang said. “But the person just went through the sidewalk. He could have stopped.”
Minister of Public Safety Ralph Goodale said that it was too soon to say whether the crash was a case of international terrorism and that the government had not raised its terrorism alert.
Toronto Police Services Deputy Chief Peter Yuen released no details about the investigation as he announced the casualties.
Yuen said police were still interviewing witnesses and examining surveillance video of the incident as part of what he called a “complex” investigation.
“I can assure the public all our available resources have been brought in to investigate this tragic situation,” he said.
The incident occurred as Cabinet 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. The driver was heading south on busy Yonge Street around 1:30 p.m. and the streets were crowded with people enjoying an unseasonably warm day when the van jumped onto the sidewalk.
Cellphone video showed bystanders frantically giving CPR to victims moments after the van struck pedestrians. Witnesses said the plowed into dozens of pedestrians at 40 mph, leaving a trail of destruction.
Ali Shaker, who was driving near the van at the time, told Canadian broadcast outlet CP24 that the driver appeared to be moving deliberately through the crowd at more than 30 mph.
“He just went on the sidewalk,” a distraught Shaker said. “He just started hitting everybody, man. He hit every single person on the sidewalk. Anybody in his way he would hit.”
Video shown on several Canadian outlets showed police arresting the driver, dressed in dark clothes, after officers surrounded him and his rental Ryder van several blocks from where the incident occurred in north Toronto. He appeared to make some sort of gesture at the police with an object in his hand just before they ordered him to lie down on the ground and took him away.
A witness, Phil Zullo, told Canadian Press that he saw police arresting a man who had been driving a Ryder rental truck and saw people “strewn all over the road” where the incident occurred.
“I must have seen about five, six people being resuscitated by bystanders and by ambulance drivers,” Zullo said. “It was awful. Brutal.”
Sunnybrook Hospital wrote on Twitter that it received a total of 10 victims. Two patients were dead on arrival and five in critical condition.
Police shut down the Yonge and Finch intersection following the incident and Toronto’s transit agency said it had suspended service on the subway line running through the area.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Twitter that he was monitoring the situation.
“Our thoughts are with all those affected by the terrible incident at Yonge and Finch in Toronto,” Trudeau said. “Thank you to the first responders working at the scene – we’re monitoring the situation closely.”