Toronto van suspect reportedly attended special needs program, made unusual noises
Alek Minassian, the suspect who allegedly drove a van into a crowd of pedestrians in Toronto on Monday, reportedly attended a special needs program at his high school and would make meowing noises when he walked the halls.
The 25-year-old from Richmond Hill, which is north of Toronto, was identified by authorities as the driver in the rampage that left 10 dead and 15 hurt. The vehicle eventually mounted the curb on Yonge Street after traveling for about a mile. He was arrested roughly 26 minutes after police were first notified of the attack, The Star reported.
Shereen Chami, a former classmate at Thornlea Secondary School, told Reuters she remembered him “walking the halls with his hands together and his head down, and making meowing noises.”
"He wasn't a social person, but from what I remember he was absolutely harmless," she said.
Special needs in the Canadian education system encompasses multiple areas, including behavioral difficulties, as well as learning and physical disabilities, according to the report.
Ari Bluff, who also attended Thornlea Secondary School with Minassian, told CBC News he “wasn't overly social,” and would often be alone.
Minassian reportedly graduated from Thornlea in 2011, before attending Seneca College from 2011 to April 2018, Reuters reported, citing an Internet archived version of his Facebook page.
A cellphone video taken by a bystander shows a man dressed in black standing in front of the van, pointing an object at a police officer while yelling, “kill me,” before obeying orders to “get down.”
Minassian is scheduled to appear in court Tuesday at 10 a.m., with information on the charges against him set to be released at the same time, according to police.
Law enforcement sources have told the New York Post that investigators are examining Facebook posts allegedly made by Minassian.
“The Incel Rebellion has already begun!” a photo of a Facebook post allegedly written by Minassian read, according to the CBC. “We will overthrow all the Chads and Stacys! All hail the Supreme Gentleman Elliot Rodger!”
An “Incel” is a term used by some to mean “involuntarily celibate,” according to CBC, which said it could not "independently verify" the post was written by Minassian.
"We are working on verifying this facebook post to confirm if it was written by the Alek Minassian or by someone else trying to mislead the public," tweeted Catherine McDonald, the Global News journalist who unearthed the message.
Rodger, 22, killed six people and then committed suicide near the University of California at Santa Barbara in 2014 because he was sexually frustrated.
Investigators are scouring through surveillance video and witness accounts in an effort to piece together what led to Minassian’s decision to drive a Ryder rental van into a crowded Toronto city street on Monday.
Authorities have yet to disclose a possible motive, but Toronto Police Service Chief Mark Saunders told reporters in a Monday evening news conference “it’s very clear the actions definitely looked deliberate," while underscoring nothing has been ruled out.
Investigators are expected to remain on the scene for several days.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.