Ten pedestrians were killed and sixteen others injured when a van hit them while they were walking down the street and on sidewalks in Toronto on Monday. The driver of the vehicle has been taken into custody.
It is unknown at this time whether the driver was intentionally trying to hit individuals. Toronto police spokeswoman Meaghan Gray said that “At this point it’s too early to tell what if any motive there was.”
But witnesses say the incident appeared to be a deliberate attack at 60 or 70 miles per hour that left debris for roughly a mile. The driver sped off after the striking the victims.
Witness Alex Shaker said the vehicle drove off the road and struck people: “He started going down on the sidewalk and crumbling down people one by one. He just destroyed so many people’s lives. Every single thing got in his way.”
Another witness said that at first, he thought the driver was having a medical emergency until the van took to the sidewalk. The unnamed witness said, “He’s just hitting people one by one, going down. It’s a nightmare.”
Journalist Jeremy Cohn of Global News tweeted from the scene: “I’ve now walked up Yonge St from north of Sheppard to Finch. I have passed multiple dead bodes covered up, shoes and debris in the road. Witnesses tell me the white van appeared completely out of control.”
A witness identified only as Nick said, “[The driver] was definitely in control of what he was doing…he knew what he was doing.”
The van was reportedly rented from Ryder, and has been recovered. The company issued a statement in response to the tragedy: “Ryder is aware of the incident involving a Ryder rental van striking pedestrians in Toronto on Monday April 23rd in the afternoon. We are saddened by this tragic event, and our deepest sympathies go out to those impacted. We take the safety and security of our entire fleet very seriously and we are cooperating fully with authorities.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took to Twitter to say, “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.”
Reuters World tweeted: “Terrorism is the leading theory about motive for Toronto attack, says U.S. security source.”