- Alek Minassian was arrested for one of country's bloodiest mass killings
- Police said they did not yet know of a motive yet
- The incident brought eerie silence to one of the city's busiest streets
Though officials did not say whether the incident was terrorism-related, it marked the latest grim reminder of how a vehicle could be turned into a weapon - in this case, speeding through a crowd at lunch hour on a sunny day, sending people and mailboxes and baby strollers flying, in what eyewitnesses described as a deliberate act.
"We lost a little bit of our innocence," John Filion, a city councilor who represents the area where the incident occurred, said in a phone interview Monday. "We often think of ourselves as being somewhat excluded from the violence and craziness that goes on in other parts of the world. You just kind of don't think of Toronto as a place where that kind of violence will come to."
Peter Yuen, Toronto police services deputy chief, told reporters: "I can assure the public all our available resources have been brought in to investigate this tragic situation," according to the Associated Press.
Save for a police helicopter circling overhead, the incident brought an eerie silence to one of the city's busiest streets, which had been filled Monday afternoon with people enjoying one of the first warm and sunny days of the year after a long winter.
The attack took place in the center of North York, a part of Toronto that has grown over the past two decades into a secondary downtown.
The area - dotted with shops, condo towers and many Korean restaurants - is so heavily trafficked that Toronto's city council debated widening the sidewalks and reducing lanes of traffic to make it more pedestrian-friendly earlier this year.
"He started going down on the sidewalk and crumbling down people one by one," Ali Shaker, who was in the vicinity of the incident, told CTV News. "He just destroyed so many people's lives." He said the driver was traveling at an estimated 35 to 45 mph.
Teresa Nolan, who lives nearby, walked out of the Sheppard subway station - near where the van came to a stop - shortly after the incident occurred, to "a scary scene." She watched as police officers apprehended the suspect and heard onlookers describing how they performed CPR on the injured.
"I watched it all happen, but didn't really take it all in until after it ended," she said.
Nolan has lived in the area for almost two years and "just loves its whole multicultural feel."
She lives on her own and said she finds the community safe.
Late Monday evening, Irene Lan, who said she had not been following the news all day, arrived in the area, hoping to pick up dinner from her favorite Korean restaurant.
She was bewildered to find what is usually a bustling street transformed into something resembling a ghost town.
"It's absolutely shocking," she said.
Sunnybrook Hospital, a trauma center near the site, said it had received 10 victims, all of them adults. Two were pronounced dead, five patients were in critical condition and the rest were in serious condition, according to Dan Cass, the hospital's executive vice president.
"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 told reporters Monday, according to the AP.
In September, Abdulahi Hasan Sharif was arrested in Edmonton, Alberta, after two related incidents on the same evening. In the first one, Sharif, a Somali refugee, is alleged to have rammed into a police officer who was at a police roadblock near a sports event. He then stabbed the police officer and escaped. A few hours later, the same man is alleged to have rammed into four pedestrians with a rental van. No one was killed, but Sharif faces multiple counts of attempted murder.
In Quebec City, on the other side of the country, Alexandre Bissonnette is in court this week in a pre-sentencing hearing after pleading guilty last month to six counts of first-degree murder in the shooting of six Muslim men as they attended prayers at a mosque in the city in January 2017. Bissonnette had mental health issues and was attracted to far-right politics and anti-immigrant rhetoric.
And in 2014, Canada's Parliament was the scene of another terrorism-related incident. Michael Zehar-Bibeau, a drug addict and convert to Islam, shot and killed a Canadian sentry on duty at the National War Memorial before heading to Parliament, where he was killed in a shootout with security officers.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
Follow NDTV for latest election news and live coverage of assembly elections 2019 in Maharashtra and Haryana.
Subscribe to our YouTube channel, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram for latest news and live news updates.