US & Canada

Alek Minassian Toronto van attack suspect praised 'incel' killer

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Media caption"I have a gun in my pocket" – the moment Alek Minassian was arrested.

A van driver accused of killing 10 people in Toronto posted to Facebook minutes before the attack to praise a woman-hating mass shooter.

Alek Minassian - charged on Tuesday with 10 counts of murder and 13 counts of attempted murder - also referred to the misogynistic "incel" Reddit group.

Police say the 25-year-old intentionally drove a rental van into pedestrians on a busy pavement.

The suspect was arrested several streets away after a tense standoff with police.

The 10 dead and 14 wounded are "predominantly" women, ranging in age from their 20s to their 80s, police say.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said it was a "senseless attack and a horrific tragedy".

What was the 'incel' group?

The suspect's Facebook post, which the social network has confirmed as real, praised Elliott Rodger, a 22-year-old from California who killed six people in a 2014 shooting rampage through Isla Vista, California, before turning the gun on himself.

It read: "The Incel Rebellion has already begun! We will overthrow all the Chads and Stacys! All hail the Supreme Gentleman Elliot Rodger!"

The term "incel" refers to a now-banned group on the message site Reddit, used by Rodger, where young men discussed their lack of sexual activity, blaming women for the problem.

"Chads and Stacys" refers to attractive men and women who are perceived as better than or unavailable to "incels", which is short for "involuntary celibate".

How did the suspect appear in court?

He was brought to court on Tuesday to hear the charges against him.

His head shaved and wearing a white jumpsuit, he held his hands behind his back, showing little emotion throughout.

He will remain in custody and return to court on 10 May for a bail hearing. He was ordered to make no contact with surviving victims.

A man believed to be his relative sat in the front row of the courtroom and wept. Asked by reporters if he had anything to say, the man replied, "Sorry".

Yonge Street, where the attack took place, remained closed on Tuesday as police continued their investigation.

Who were the victims?

While the authorities have not yet formally identified any of the dead, three have been named in the media.

Image copyright Facebook
Image caption Anne Marie D'Amico was "full of life", her colleague said

Anne-Marie D'Amico worked for the US investment company Invesco, Canadian broadcaster CBC reports. The company's Canadian headquarters are on Yonge Street.

The Jordanian embassy in Ottawa has told the BBC that one of its citizens was among the victims. Jordanian media named him as Munir Abdo Habib al-Najjar. He was reportedly in Canada to visit his son.

Toronto resident Dorothy Sewell, 80, has also been named by relatives as one of the victims.

Image copyright Elwood Delaney
Image caption Dorothy Sewell was a fan of the Toronto Blue Jays baseball team

Her grandson, Elwood Delaney, said she was the "best grandma anyone could have asked for".

The South Korean embassy in Canada confirmed to the BBC that two of its citizens were among the dead and another was critically ill. Their names have not been disclosed.

The 15 injured remain in hospitals throughout Toronto.

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Media captionPeople gathered to remember the victims of the attack

What else do we know about Minassian?

From the northern Toronto suburb of Richmond Hill, he was not previously known to the authorities.

There "would appear to be no national security connections", public safety minister Ralph Goodale said.

He attended a school for students with special needs in north Toronto, former classmates say.

Image copyright LinkedIn

He would be seen walking around Thornlea Secondary School with his head down and hands clasped tightly together making meowing noises, Shereen Chami told Reuters news agency.

But she added that he had not been violent: "He wasn't a social person, but from what I remember he was absolutely harmless."

He went on to attend Seneca College in the North York area of Toronto, where the van incident took place, CBC reports.

The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) has also confirmed he was a member for two months in late 2017 before asking to be voluntarily released.

Image copyright Instagram/vodkawaterpapi
Image caption The suspect confronted a police officer and claimed to have a gun
Image copyright EPA
Image caption Flowers and messages are left near a small park on Yonge Street

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