NEW: Of 12 people still hospitalized, five listed as critical, three in serious condition
Despite 10 counts of murder against the suspect, the motive remains unclear
Toronto police have their suspect – but they’re still looking for a motive.
Alek Minassian, the man accused of plowing into pedestrians with a rented van on Monday, was charged Tuesday with 10 counts of first-degree murder.
The 25-year-old is also charged with 13 counts of attempted murder. Authorities said another count of attempted murder likely will be added.
Investigators are still trying to determine the motive behind the attack, which left 10 people dead and 14 hurt. One aspect they will look at is his social media posts and what a man who killed six people with a vehicle in 2014 meant to Minassian.
Minassian, who was wearing a white jumpsuit with his hands cuffed behind him, appeared attentive during the brief hearing. His next court appearance will be a bail hearing on May 10.
“Obviously all Canadians continue and will continue to have questions about why this happened, what could possibly be the motive behind it,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday.
So far, officials aren’t calling the attack an act of terrorism. “There would appear to be no national security connection,” Canadian Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said.
But Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders said, “It’s very clear just from a general perspective to say that the actions definitely look deliberate.”
The van sped down a busy street Monday with reckless abandon, swerving into the wrong lanes of traffic and careening onto a sidewalk.
Clue emerges from Facebook
Minassian on Monday posted a cryptic message to Facebook minutes before setting off in his rented vehicle, Sgt. Graham Gibson, a homicide detective with the Toronto police, said Tuesday.
Investigators found a Facebook account they believe belongs to Minassian, CNN law enforcement analyst Josh Campbell said.
A message posted on the account earlier Monday read: “All hail the Supreme Gentleman Elliot Rodger!”
Campbell said investigators believe the post refers to the man who killed six and injured 14 in a drive-by shooting and vehicle ramming attack near the University of California Santa Barbara campus in 2014. Rodger later died from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Investigators said Rodger was motivated to carry out his attack by a personal grievance related to his immersion in the extremist ideological subculture of men’s rights activists, who believe women don’t actually want gender equality and have been brainwashed by feminist propaganda.
A mile-long scene of carnage
Minassian was arrested in a white rental van about seven minutes after police received a 911 call, Saunders said Wednesday.
He said Toronto authorities hadn’t had previous contact with the 25-year-old suspect. But a US law enforcement official with knowledge of the case said Minassian was known to authorities. Authorities said Minassian left a trail of destruction nearly a mile long, north of midtown Toronto.
“Based on witness accounts, we have a vehicle that started north on Yonge Street from Finch (Avenue) and drove southbound at some point in times on sidewalks, at some point in times driving southbound in northbound lanes,” Saunders said, adding that it appeared to be a deliberate act.