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Toronto Van Driver Kills at Least 10 People in ‘Pure Carnage’

The carnage was reminiscent of deadly attacks by Islamic State supporters using vehicles that have shaken up Nice, France, Berlin, Barcelona, London and New York. But late Monday, Canada’s public safety minister, Ralph Goodale, said this time appeared to be different.

“The events that happened on the street behind us are horrendous,” he said, “but they do not appear to be connected in any way to national security based on the information at this time.”

With the driver under arrest, the Canadian authorities began the process of reconstructing how — and why — a day filled with the promise of early spring became a scene of horror.

“There were a lot of pedestrians out, a lot of witnesses out, enjoying the sunny afternoon,” said Peter Yuen, the deputy chief of the Toronto police service.

John Flengas, the acting E.M.S. supervisor for Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center, which said it received 10 victims from the scene, described it as “pure carnage.” He told CTV News on Monday that he had seen “victims everywhere.”

One witness said the van had mowed down everything in its path: pedestrians, mailboxes, electrical poles, benches and a fire hydrant. Another, who rushed to help the pedestrian struck while crossing the street, said, “Pieces of the van went flying everywhere.”

Meaghan Gray, a spokeswoman for the Toronto police, said the authorities received a report at 1:30 p.m. on Monday that the van had mounted a curb near Yonge Street and Finch Avenue West. Stephan Powell, a spokesman for the Toronto Fire Department, said pedestrians were struck at “at least two locations.”

Ten victims were taken to the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center, Dr. Dan Cass, its executive vice president, said at a news conference. Two were declared dead on arrival, five were in critical condition and three were in serious condition, he said.

Dr. Cass said that he did not have information about the nature of the victims’ injuries and that the hospital had not yet confirmed the identities of the dead.

In a statement on Monday, John Tory, the mayor of Toronto, said, “My thoughts are with those affected by this incident and the front-line responders who are working to help those injured.”


A rented van on a sidewalk about a mile from where several pedestrians were killed. Credit Aaron Vincent Elkaim/The Canadian Press, via Associated Press

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, “We’re monitoring the situation closely.”

Yonge Street is Toronto’s main artery, and is widely celebrated as the longest street in Canada. It cuts through the city from Lake Ontario through downtown before reaching the suburbs and then into farmland.

The deaths occurred in the far north, a densely populated part of the city surrounded by many new condominium towers. On Monday, many shops in the area remained closed, at the request of the authorities. And a makeshift memorial was developing at a stone wall just south of Finch Avenue.

Konstantin Goulich, a local resident, appeared with bags of markers and rolls of cardboard from a dollar store.

“Guys please come and write how you’re feeling: your wishes for the victims, if you’d like to say something. Every bit of support counts,” Mr. Goulich said to passers-by as a van across Yonge street removed bodies from the scene.


Residents on Yonge Street wrote messages of support for the victims in Toronto at a makeshift memorial near where the suspect was arrested on Monday. Credit Ian Austen/The New York Times

“If you can’t write in English, write in your own language write in Chinese, write in Korean,” he said.

Late in the day, well south of the scene of the killings, extra security was obvious around the Air Canada Centre in downtown Toronto, where the Toronto Maple Leafs were playing. Large municipal dump trucks, apparently filled with sand and gravel, were used to block off roads, including one major thoroughfare near the ice rink.

The van used in the rampage was stopped about a mile south of where it took place, said Dan Fox, a civil servant who passed the vehicle on his way to work on Monday. He said it had “significant damage.”

“It looked like the side of the van had scraped along the side of the building,” Mr. Fox said in a phone interview, the sound of police sirens wailing behind him. “The driver-side door was open, but I didn’t see anyone in or around the van.”

The episode in Toronto appeared to be the deadliest use of a vehicle in Canada to deliberately mow down pedestrians.

Last October, a police officer in Edmonton was struck with a car and stabbed, and four other people were later deliberately hit by a U-Haul truck. The driver of both vehicles, a Somali immigrant, was arrested in what Prime Minister Trudeau called a terrorist attack.

In 2014, a driver in the Montreal area struck two members of the Canadian armed forces and was shot and killed by the police, who described the attack as Islamist terrorism. One of the victims died.

Source: NYT > World

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