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Van strikes pedestrians in Toronto, killing 10 and injuring 15

TORONTO -- A van struck and killed 10 pedestrians Monday afternoon in north Toronto and the driver fled the scene, Canadian police said. Fifteen others were injured in the incident. Authorities said the van has been found and the driver was in custody. Police said they did not yet know the cause or any possible motive.

CBS News sources identified the suspect as Alek Minassian, 25, and obtained a photo of him from social media Monday. Officials announced he's from Richmond Hill -- a town in Ontario, Canada. They said that the suspect was not previously known to police.

Minassian shouted to police to shoot him, to kill him as police -- with weapons drawn -- ordered him to get down on the ground as they moved in to arrest him, CBS News has learned.

Alek Minassian LinkedIn

Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders increased the death toll from nine during a press conference Monday night, noting that one of the victims died at a hospital.

Asked if there was any evidence of a connection to international terrorism, the chief said only, "Based on what we have there's nothing that has it to compromise the national security at this time."

U.S. law enforcement sources told CBS News that the incident appears to be a deliberate act. Witnesses said the driver was moving fast and appeared to be acting deliberately.

Witness Peter Kang told CTV News that the driver did not seem to make any effort to stop.

"If it was an accident he would have stopped," Kang said. "But the person just went through the sidewalk. He could have stopped."

A senior national government official said earlier that authorities had not turned over the investigation to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, a sign that investigators believed it unlikely terrorism was the motive. The official agreed to reveal that information only if not quoted by name.

Toronto Police Services Deputy Chief Peter Yuen released no details about the investigation as he announced the casualties.

"I can assure the public all our available resources have been brought in to investigate this tragic situation," Yuen said earlier.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau thanked the first responders who "faced danger" in a Monday evening tweet linked to his official announcement:

Also on Twitter, Vice President Mike Pence wrote that he and President Trump are monitoring the situation:

The incident occurred as Cabinet ministers from the major industrial countries were gathered in Canada to discuss a range of international issues in the run-up to the G7 meeting near Quebec City in June. Canadian Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale called the incident a "horrific attack" and said the G7 foreign ministers extended their condolences.

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.

Police inspect a van suspected of being involved in a collision at Yonge Street and Finch Avenue on April 23, 2018, in Toronto, Canada.
Police inspect a van suspected of being involved in a collision at Yonge Street and Finch Avenue on Mon., April 23, 2018, in Toronto, Canada. Getty

Cellphone video showed bystanders frantically giving CPR to victims moments after the van struck pedestrians. Witnesses said the plowed into dozens of pedestrians at 40 mph, leaving a trail of destruction.

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."

Video shown on several Canadian outlets showed police arresting the driver, dressed in dark clothes, after officers surrounded him and his rental Ryder van several blocks from where the incident occurred in north Toronto. He appeared to make some sort of gesture at the police with an object in his hand just before they ordered him to lie down on the ground and took him away.

A witness, Phil Zullo, told Canadian Press that he saw police arresting a man who had been driving a Ryder rental truck and saw people "strewn all over the road" where the incident occurred.

"I must have seen about five, six people being resuscitated by bystanders and by ambulance drivers," Zullo said. "It was awful. Brutal."

Sunnybrook Hospital wrote on Twitter that it received a total of 10 victims. Two patients were dead on arrival and five in critical condition:

CBS News senior investigative producer Pat Milton and correspondent Vladimir Duthiers contributed to this report. 

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