Toronto attack suspect posted cryptic message online

25-year-old Alek Minassian has been charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder

Toronto attack suspect posted cryptic message online

Ambulances are seen near the site where a van struck pedestrians in Toronto, Canada, 23-04-2018. Image: Zou Zheng/Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

Police in Toronto say a man accused of murdering 10 people and injuring 15 others by driving a van into pedestrians posted a cryptic message online, minutes before the incident.

25-year-old Alek Minassian has been charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder and 13 counts of attempted murder.

In one Facebook post, Mr Minassian voiced admiration for a man who killed six college students in 2014.

Mr Minassian was arrested after the incident – the worst mass killing in Canada in decades – yesterday.

Police suspect him of being the driver of a rented van which mounted the pavement on the corner of Yonge Street and Finch Avenue.

Attack

Toronto police are still trying to establish a motive for the attack.

Mr Minassian, from nearby Richmond Hill, was captured in a tense but brief confrontation with officers a few streets away from where the van mounted the pavement.

The vehicle continued for a mile, leaving people bloodied and dead.

Additional police have been deployed across Toronto in the wake of the incident, while officials say victims are still being identified.

Officials have said that although the attack has the hallmarks of other deadly vehicle assaults by Islamic State supporters in the United States and Europe, they say it did not represent a threat to national security.

Asked if there was any evidence of a terrorist link, Mr Saunders said: "Based on what we have there's nothing to compromise national security at this time."

Motive

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks after the attack in Toronto, 24-04-2018. Image:  Justin Tang/AP/Press Association Images

The Canadian prime minister has warned that it will take time to fully uncover the attacker’s motives.

Justin Trudeau said the incident had not changed the country’s security threat level or preparations for a G7 summit in Quebec this summer.

In a statement after the attack he offered his “heartfelt condolences to the loved ones of those who were killed, and my thoughts for a fast and full recovery to those injured.”

“I thank the first responders at the scene who managed this extremely difficult situation with courage and professionalism,” he said.

“They faced danger without hesitation, and their efforts no doubt saved lives and prevented further injuries."

A number of witness accounts suggest the incident was carried out on purpose, with the police chief agreeing that the behaviour was intentional.

"The incident definitely looked deliberate," police chief Mark Saunders told reporters.

Police said the suspect was not previously known to them.

"Suicide by cop"

The police officer who arrested the suspect has been praised for refusing to shoot him.

The suspect is thought to have been seeking "suicide by cop."

As the suspect shouted "Kill me," the officer replied, "No, get down."

He went on to say: "I have a gun in my pocket." The officer replied: "I don't care. Get down" before edging forward to get in a position to arrest him.

Court appearance

In court, Mr Minassian wore a white jail jumpsuit and had his hands handcuffed. He showed little emotion.

He was asked to say his name and if he understood an order not to have any contact with anyone injured in Monday's crash scene.

He did not enter a plea to the charges and was ordered to return to court on May 10th.

The judge ordered he be detained without bond.