Toronto van carnage suspect charged with 10 counts of murder | News | DW | 24.04.2018
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Toronto van carnage suspect charged with 10 counts of murder

A man who killed 10 people on a Toronto sidewalk with a van has been charged with 10 counts of murder and 13 counts of attempted murder. Police have remanded him to custody pending the start of his trial.

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Trudeau: Our hearts go out to everyone affected

Toronto authorities on Tuesday charged a van driver who plowed into a crowd of people on a busy sidewalk with murder. Police said the suspect, 25-year-old Alek M., was not known to them before Monday's carnage in Canada's most populous city, which left 10 people dead and 15 more injured.

Alek M. entered the courtroom wearing a white forensic jumpsuit and spoke his name loudly and confidently, said DW's correspondent in Toronto, Jeff Harrington. 

The suspect’s father was present in court and wept as the charges were read out, Harrington said.

The judge ordered him detained without bond and has scheduled the next hearing for May 10.

Speaking to reporters, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dismissed the possibility of terrorism, and said that authorities see no national security element in the case.

At the news conference Trudeau said that it "hasn't changed the overall threat level in Canada," though it occurred as Cabinet ministers from the G7 nations were meeting in Toronto.

What we know about the suspect

Police are still no closer to establishing a motive, but reports have emerged of M. "egging police on, telling police to shoot him," according to Harrington.

Police did, however, say the suspect had posted a "cryptic message" on his social media account moments before the attack. Facebook confirmed that the man referrered to the "incel rebellion" on its site (short for "involuntary celibacy") and praised another man who killed six college students and then himself in California in 2014. That man had cited his frustration over a lack of sexual contact as the reason for the killings.

The house where the suspect lived with his father, a two-story red-brick home in the Richmond Hill suburb north of Toronto, was a crime scene Tuesday, taped off and surrounded by police vehicles. Officers were seen going in and out of the house.

Fellow students who attended a Toronto vocational school with Alek M. described him as withdrawn and a bit awkward, but one classmate remembered him as "absolutely harmless." 

The suspect kept mostly to himself at school, and seemed to constantly rub his head or hands — a sign of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), classmates told local media.

Ari Blaff, one of the students, told public broadcaster CBC that Minassian's behavior "was usually quite strange." But he'd "never noticed anything violent," adding that the suspect just "made people feel uneasy around him."

av/rt (Reuters, AP, AFP)

Editor's note: DW follows the German press code, which stresses the importance of protecting the privacy of suspected criminals or victims and obliges us to refrain from revealing full names in such cases.

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