Later, as cops caught up to suspect Alek Minassian, 25, he leaped out of his vehicle and entered into a standoff with them, pointing what appeared to be a weapon as they trained their guns on him, video shows.
“Kill me!’’ Minassian shouted. “Shoot me in the head!” After several tense seconds, the suspect threw away the object and police ran to cuff him. It’s not clear what the object was, but police later said no firearm was recovered at the scene. Minassian, who attended college in Toronto, may have suffered from mental health problems and posted a rambling, incoherent message on Facebook just a few days ago, a law enforcement source told The Post.
“It was like the ranting from an emotionally disturbed person,” the source said about the post. “It was all over the place.”NBC News reported that Minassian had an online conversation about Elliot Rodger, a disturbed young man who went on a shooting rampage at a college near Santa Barbara, Calif. in 2014.
Monday’s rampage bore the hallmarks of previous terror attacks from New York City to Nice, France: the use of a vehicle as a death machine to mow down pedestrians in packed areas. A pickup truck attack by an ISIS-loving maniac on a bike path on Manhattan’s West Side on Halloween 2017 left eight dead. Cops started chasing Minassian’s white Ryder van shortly before 1:30 p.m. outside downtown Toronto, as it zoomed along the sidewalk at 40 mph — and multiple 911 calls from frantic witnesses started pouring in.
Michele Kelman, a worker at a nearby IT company, was returning to the office after lunch when she and a friend found themselves in the middle of the attack. She told The Globe and Mail that she shielded herself as the van sped past her — but her friend wasn’t so lucky. “My friend was gone,” Kelman said. “I couldn’t find her body for a while. There were a few around, and there were people trying to bring her back.
“I thought maybe she was still alive. I thought maybe she ran,” Kelman added, her eyes red and hands shaky. “There were bodies all over.” Ali Shaker, who was driving near Minassian, told Canadian TV’s CP24, “He just started hitting everybody, man. He hit every single person on the sidewalk.”
Separate videos showed the van plowing through the streets for about 2 miles, weaving in and out of traffic and over the sidewalks, until it was finally cornered by police cars. The incident happened about 18 miles north of downtown, where foreign ministers from the Group of Seven industrialized nations — including Canada, the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Japan — and other delegates gathered for a meeting at the Intercontinental Hotel.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed his condolences.“We’re still gathering information [on the attack], and as soon as we can, we’ll share more information,” he said. “Our hearts go out to everyone affected.” The New York Police Department said Monday that it “is monitoring developments in Toronto through the intelligence bureau, and in coordination with the Joint Terrorism Task Force here in Manhattan.
“Additional counter terror officers have been deployed to high-profile locations in and around the City out of an abundance of caution and until more is learned about today’s events,” the department said in the statement. John Flengas, acting superintendent for EMS Toronto, called the attack on his usually peaceful city “unprecedented.”
“We’ve never seen anything like this in Toronto up until now . . . We never thought this would happen here,” he said. “It’s a level of surreal. “You go in and treat each patient with an individual focus, then you move to the next one.”
Orange body bags containing dead victims could be seen in the street, along with at least one mangled baby stroller. Authorities were still questioning Minassian, who attended Seneca College, sources told The Post. Three of the injured are students at the college, according to the Toronto Star. Latest news is Investigation continuing.