A driver in a white van on Monday afternoon mounted a curb and plowed into pedestrians strolling a sidewalk along a major thoroughfare in Toronto, killing 10 people and injuring 16 others, police said.
“There were a lot of pedestrians out, a lot of witnesses out, enjoying the sunny afternoon,” said Peter Yuen, the acting deputy chief of the Toronto police department. “I ask the city of Toronto to pray for our victims and to help the Toronto police service bring this matter to a successful conclusion.”
Witnesses said the Ryder rental van sped down the sidewalk on Yonge Street for several blocks around 1:30 p.m., mowing down everyone in its path. Less than an hour later, authorities had found and arrested the suspected driver, whom multiple reports have identified as 25-year-old Alek Minassian.
“I was in my car and I saw a white van going on the sidewalk,” witness Ham Yu-Jin said, according to The Toronto Star. “I heard a big bang and the van hit a bus shelter and hit people. I turned my car on and chased the van. I’m so lucky, I could have been hit.”
A video appears to show the suspected driver, a bald man, being arrested by police after a confrontation in the street.
“Shoot me in the head,” the suspect can be heard yelling as he appears to point a gun at the officer.
Photos from the crash site showed blood stains, abandoned shoes, and at least one body covered in a tarp on the sidewalk. Witnesses described a scene of utter chaos as the carnage unfolded.
Amir Bahmeyeh, 29, told The Star that the driver was zigzagging down the street as people cried out in disbelief.
“I saw one old man go flying in the air,” he said. “People were screaming, ‘Oh my god.’”
Police have yet to offer a motive for the incident.
“May I begin by expressing on behalf of all of the people of Toronto, and on behalf of myself and the members of the Toronto city council, our profound condolences to those who have fallen victim to this terrible act this afternoon,” Toronto Mayor John Tory said at a press conference.
“Our hearts and our thoughts and our prayers go out to the families of those involved, to their friends, to their coworkers.”
Subway service in the city was partially halted, and the area near the incident has been closed to traffic. People were encouraged to stay out of the area as the investigation continues.
“Our thoughts are obviously with all of those affected,” said Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday. “We are still gathering information... we will keep Canadians updated.”