On Monday, April 23, a white van in Toronto reportedly drove into a crowd of pedestrians on a busy street. According to CNN, the incident is believed to have been deliberate. According to police, at least nine people were killed and 16 others were injured.
UPDATE: CBS News reports that the death toll from this incident has risen to 10 victims, and 15 others remain injured.
EARLIER: Meaghan Gray, a spokesperson for the Toronto Police Department, said in a statement to The New York Times that authorities received a report at about 1:30 p.m. local time that the van had driven onto a curb in the downtown region of the city. The suspected driver was in custody about 90 minutes later, per the Times. The van hit a man crossing Yonge Street, which is the city's main road, and then proceeded to jump a curb near Mel Lastman Square. According civil servant and witness Dan Fox, the van was eventually stopped a mile away from where the incident took place, where the suspect was subsequently apprehended by local law enforcement.
The condition of the injured victims are not yet known, but the number of fatalities could increase depending on the severity of those injured victims. According to Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center, the hospital received a total of 10 victims from the incident. Two of those victims were pronounced dead upon arrival, and five of those victims are currently in critical condition.
At a news conference, Acting Chief Peter Yuen stated, "I ask the city of Toronto, pray for our victims and also to assist the Toronto police service in bringing this matter to a successful conclusion."
According to videos recorded by multiple witness on the scene, the suspect in question is described as a balding middle-aged white man, and he appeared to engage in a brief standoff with police and had some sort of object in his hand. He also shouted some things at the police as they were approaching him at the scene. The suspect eventually dropped the object from his hand and police were able to make the arrest, as seen in the witness videos. The suspect was driving a Ryder rental van, and the right side of the vehicle appeared to be severely damaged as a result of the collisions.
Toronto Mayor John Tory addressed the incident in a news conference, were he assured citizens that their city is safe. He also shared his condolences to those affected by the incident, saying,
I hope that we will as a city remind ourselves of the fact that we are admired around the world for being inclusive and for being accepting and understanding and considerate and that we are united in standing in solidarity with those who have fallen victim to this terrible tragedy today.
Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also tweeted out his condolences, saying,
Our thoughts are with all those affected by the terrible incident at Yonge and Finch in Toronto. Thank you to the first responders working at the scene — we're monitoring the situation closely.
Incidents resembling this latest pedestrian attack happen all too often. Just about eight months ago on Aug. 12, 2017, a man attending the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, drove into a crowd of counter protesters, taking the life of Heather Hayer and injuring 30 others. And on Oct. 31, 2017, a man in a rented truck drove onto a busy bike path in New York City, killing eight people and injuring 12 others.
It is frightening to see these instances of violence against innocent bystanders, and my heart goes out to all of the victims, their friends and families, and the city of Toronto in this difficult time.