TORONTO (AP) — Details have begun to emerge about Alek Minassian, who has been charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder and 13 of attempted murder for driving a van onto a crowded sidewalk in Toronto.
Minassian, 25, lived with his family in the Toronto suburb of Richmond Hill, on a street of sizeable, well-tended brick homes. Police say he had no criminal record before Monday’s carnage, one of the worst mass killings in Canada’s history.
His father, Vahe Minassian, wept and seemed stunned as he watched as his son, showing little emotion, make a brief court appearance Tuesday and be ordered held without bail.
When his father was asked later whether he had any message for the families of the people killed and injured, he said quietly: “I’m sorry.”
Minassian attended Seneca College, according to his LinkedIn profile. A spokeswoman for the Toronto-area school didn’t respond to an inquiry about him.
Before college, Minassian attended Thornlea Secondary School in Richmond Hill, graduating in 2011. A Thornlea classmate, Ari Blaff, told CBC News he recalled Minassian as “sort of in the background,” not the center of any particular group of friends. “He wasn’t overly social,” Blaff told the news broadcaster.
Minassian joined the Canadian Armed Forces last year, but his stay was brief.
The Department of National Defence says he was a member of the military from Aug. 23 to Oct. 25, but didn’t complete his recruit training. He asked to be voluntarily released after 16 days, the department says.
Shortly before Monday’s attack, a chilling post appeared on Minassian’s now-deleted Facebook account saluting Elliot Rodger, a community college student who killed six people and wounded 13 in shooting and stabbing attacks near the University of California, Santa Barbara, before apparently shooting himself to death in 2014.
Calling Rodger “the Supreme Gentleman,” the Facebook post declared: “The Incel Rebellion has already begun! We will overthrow all the Chads and Stacys!”
The 22-year-old Rodger had used the term “incel” — for involuntarily celibate — in online posts raging at women for rejecting him romantically. Like-minded people in internet forums sometimes use “Chad” and “Stacy” as dismissive slang for men and women with more robust sex lives.
Facebook confirmed that Monday’s post appeared on an account that belonged to the suspect.
The social networking site took down the account after the attack, saying in a statement, “There is absolutely no place on our platform for people who commit such horrendous acts.”