TORONTO – A man in a rented van jumped onto a crowded Toronto sidewalk Monday, killing ten people and injuring 16 before the driver fled and was later arrested in a confrontation with police, Canadian authorities said.
Witnesses said the driver was moving fast and appeared to be acting deliberately, but police said they did not yet know the cause or any possible motive.
Toronto Police Services Deputy Chief Peter Yuen released no details about the investigation as he announced that nine people had died and 16 were injured.
Yuen said police were still interviewing witnesses and examining surveillance video of the incident as part of what he called a “complex” investigation.
“I can assure the public all our available resources have been brought in to investigate this tragic situation,” he said.
Police said initially that “multiple” pedestrians were hit just before 1.30pm local time Monday (12.30am Tuesday, Thailand time), though they initially reported 8-10.
Minister of Public Safety Ralph Goodale said that it was too soon to say whether the crash was a case of international terrorism and that the government had not raised its terrorism alert.
The driver was heading south on busy Yonge Street around 1:30 p.m. and the streets were crowded with people enjoying an unseasonably warm day when the van jumped onto the sidewalk.
Ali Shaker, who was driving near the van at the time, told Canadian broadcast outlet CP24 that the driver appeared to be moving deliberately through the crowd at more than 30 mph.
“He just went on the sidewalk,” a distraught Shaker said. “He just started hitting everybody, man. He hit every single person on the sidewalk. Anybody in his way he would hit.”
A Global News journalist, Jeremy Cohn, at the scene described it as “bodies all over Yonge St,” the main street in Toronto. His reported added, “some have been pronounced dead on scene.”
Witnesses all agreed the large white cargo van mounted the sidewalk, and appeared to make deliberate attempts to run down pedestrians enjoying the long-overdue spring sunshine.
A man was taken into custody. Video of the arrest shows the man pointing something at police before he drops it on the ground and is arrested.
A dramatic cellphone video of the arrest showed the man in the middle of the street threatening police before he surrendered. The video was shown at Twitter/@waqas_mahmud)
— Waqas (@waqas_mahmud) April 23, 2018
A separate video on the same site showed the man being taken into custody by police, with the damaged rental van on the pathway.
It was not immediately clear what caused the white van from the Ryder rental company to strike the pedestrians in a busy intersection in the north-central part of the city. Police did not immediately identify the driver.
“At this point it’s too early to tell what if any motive there was. We are also unable right now to tell the extent or the number of persons injured,” Toronto police spokeswoman Meaghan Gray said.
The Associated Press