Who Is Alek Minassian, The Toronto Van Attack Suspect?

Minassian was not affiliated with any terrorist organizations but a Facebook account with the same name talked about a “Supreme Gentleman Elliot Rodger.”



Ten people were killed and 15 were injured on April 23 after a white Ryder van plowed through pedestrians along a one-kilometer stretch of Yonge Street in Toronto. Police have identified the suspect as 25-year-old Alek Minassian from Richmond Hill, Ontario.

Cell phone video showed Minassian stepping out the busted van as a stand-off between the suspect and police ensued. Minassian allegedly pointed a dark object at the officers who were telling him to “get on the ground.” In the video, the suspect could be heard telling officers to “kill me” and shoot him in the head.

Here’s what we know about him.

In his LinkedIn profile, Minassian is identified as a student of Seneca College in North York. The profile also listed him as a software developer who was working on a number of apps.

Joseph Pham, who took computer programming classes with the suspect, said Minassian was not very social and did not like to draw attention to himself.

“He kept to himself. He didn’t really talk to anyone,” he told The Star.

“I'm not sure if he had any very, very close friends, at least publicly,” Ari Bluff, another classmate, told CBC News. “I never saw him with a group of friends, generally. But whenever we would see him in the hallways, we'd always speak to him or say hi to him or whatnot.”

Another fellow student said Minassian suffered from compulsions like tapping his head and shaky heads and said he thought the suspect had “significant social or mental disability.”

According to The Sun, Minassian was not affiliated with any terrorist organizations but a Facebook account with the same name and photo as the suspect, referred to a “Supreme Gentleman Elliot Rodger.”

Rodger killed six people and injured 14 others when he went on a deadly rampage in Isla Vista, California, in 2014. He then killed himself in his car. Before the attack, Rodger had raged about a number of women who were not romantically interested in him and who had rendered him “incels” — a term which means being “involuntarily celibate.”

However, Toronto police chief Mark Saunders said, “Based on what we have there's nothing that has it to compromise the national security at this time.”

His words were echoed by Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale who acknowledged the incident was “horrendous” but stopped short of calling it a terrorist attack.

Saunders also said they do not yet understand Minassian’s motive but his said the suspect’s actions “definitely looked deliberate.”

He also said no firearm was found in possession of the suspect at the time of the arrest and he was also not known by the Toronto Police Department.

The police chief said there will be a “tremendous amount” of work involved to process the scene and the police department, as well as its federal and provincial counterparts, is investigating the incident.

Minassian is scheduled to appear in court on Tuesday in North York.

Banner/Thumbnail credit: REUTERS/Saul Porto

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