Latest: Toronto van suspect charged with 10 counts of murder

Update 3.55pm: A 25-year-old who allegedly ploughed a van into people on a crowded Toronto pavement has been ordered to be held on 10 counts of murder and 13 of attempted murder.

Alek Minassian appeared in court as Canadian authorities and the public sought to make sense of what appeared to be one of the deadliest mass murders in the country's modern history.

Minassian showed little overt emotion as he made a brief appearance in a Toronto courtroom in a white jumpsuit and handcuffs. The judge ordered him detained without bond and scheduled the next hearing for May 10.

Police, meanwhile, still appeared to be gathering evidence. About 20 officers made their way down the van's deadly path on Yonge Street searching for any evidence. Nearby, mourners had put together a makeshift memorial to the victims.

"It was like he was playing a video game, trying to kill as many people as possible," said Panna Patel, 42, who stopped by the memorial and had been at the scene a day earlier, getting cash from an ATM as it occurred.

He was looking people directly in the eye, making eye contact, it was so scary. He wasn't remorseful at all.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dismissed the possibility of terrorism, saying that authorities see no national security element in the case.

He told a news conference that the incident "hasn't changed the overall threat level in Canada", though it occurred as Cabinet ministers from the G7 nations were meeting in Toronto.

Authorities so far had not disclosed a possible motive or cause, though "the incident definitely looked deliberate," Police Chief Mark Saunders told reporters at a late-night news conference.

Saunders said Minassian, who lives in the Toronto suburb of Richmond Hill, had not been known to police previously. An online social media profile described him as a college student.

Authorities released few details in the case, saying the investigation was still under way, with witnesses being interviewed and surveillance video being examined.

Earlier: 'I've got a gun in my pocket' - Video shows confrontation between Toronto suspect and police

Latest 9.30am: Police in Toronto are trying to find the motive of a driver who ploughed into pedestrians on a crowded footpath, killing 10 people and injuring 15.

A 25-year-old suspect was captured in a tense but brief confrontation with officers a few streets away from where his van mounted the pavement and continued for a mile, leaving people bloodied and dead.

Authorities are piecing together witness accounts and surveillance video but have not yet disclosed a possible motive or cause, even as the police chief agreed with witnesses that it seemed intentional.

"The incident definitely looked deliberate," police chief Mark Saunders told reporters.

Mr Saunders said the suspect, Alek Minassian, who lives in the Toronto suburb of Richmond Hill, had not been known to police previously. An online social media profile described him as a college student.

Officials would not comment on a possible motive except to play down a possible connection to terrorism after the incident had several similarities to a series of attacks involving vehicles and pedestrians in Europe, and the presence in Toronto this week of cabinet ministers from the G7 nations.

Asked if there was any evidence of a terrorist link, Mr Saunders said: "Based on what we have there's nothing that has it to compromise the national security at this time."

Earlier: Police identify man suspected of killing 10 by driving through crowded Toronto pavement

A rented van ploughed down a crowded Toronto pavement, killing 10 people and injuring 15 yesterday before the driver fled and was quickly arrested in a confrontation with police, Canadian authorities have said.

Witnesses said the driver was moving fast and appeared to be acting deliberately, but police officials would not comment on the cause or any possible motive.

Speaking at a news conference last night, Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders raised the initial death toll of nine to 10, saying another victim had died at a hospital. He said 15 others were still in hospital.

Mr Saunders identified the man detained after the incident as Alek Minassian, 25, a resident of the Toronto suburb of Richmond Hill.

Authorities released few details in the case, saying the investigation was still underway, with witnesses being interviewed and surveillance video being examined.

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

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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.

Minister of Public Safety Ralph Goodale said that it was too soon to say whether the crash was a case of international terrorism and that the government had not raised its terrorism alert.

A senior national government official later said 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 driver was heading south on busy Yonge Street around 1.30pm local time and the streets were crowded with people enjoying an unseasonably warm day when the van jumped on to the pavement.

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 30mph, adding: "He just went on the sidewalk. He just started hitting everybody, man. He hit every single person on the sidewalk. Anybody in his way he would hit."

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," Mr Kang said. "But the person just went through the sidewalk. He could have stopped."

Video broadcast 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 the North York neighbourhood of northern 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.

Witness Phil Zullo told Canadian Press that he saw police arresting the suspect and 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," Mr Zullo said. "It was awful. Brutal."

Police shut down the Yonge and Finch intersection following the incident and Toronto's transit agency said it had suspended service on the subway line running through the area.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed his sympathies for those involved. "Our hearts go out to everyone affected," Trudeau said in Ottawa.

"We are going to have more to learn and more to say in the coming hours."

- PA

KEYWORDS: Toronto

 

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