Alleged van attacker Alek Minassian apparently cited a misogynistic online community on Facebook just moments before he allegedly mowed down more than a dozen people Monday on a busy Toronto street leaving 10 people dead.
Facebook confirmed to VICE News that a post appeared on the authentic page of Minassian, 25, referencing “incels,” a term used to describe men who are “involuntarily celibate” and blame their celibacy on women before his white rented van mounted the sidewalk in a diverse Toronto neighborhood and ran down pedestrians for nearly a mile.
Police arrested Minassian after a tense standoff in which he asked the police officers to kill him, according to bystander video.
In a post made before the attacks, Minassian appeared to ally himself with the “incels” and with Elliott Rodger, a man who killed six people near the University of California in Santa Barbara. Rodger posted a video manifesto shortly before those attacks saying he wanted to punish women for rejecting him.
“Private (Recruit) Minassian Infantry 00010, wishing to speak to Sgt. 4chan please. C23249161,” reads the post. “The Incel Rebellion has already begun! We will overthrow all the Chads and Stacys! All hail the Supreme Gentleman Elliot Rodger!”
In many online communities, “Chads and Stacys” is slang for attractive, non-socially awkward people. In Rodger’s video, the then-22-year-old dubbed himself the “supreme gentleman,” a moniker that Minassian also referenced in his alleged Facebook post.
The post also made reference to a “Sgt. 4chan,” apparently referring to the longstanding anonymous message board and troll hub.
The incel community has recently faced intense pushback, with one subreddit dedicated to the group (their main gathering point at the time) being taken down in 2017. Reddit also banned another popular subreddit for incels, called /r/malecels, in the hours following the Toronto incident. Reddit spokespeople did not immediately respond to VICE’s request for comment.
Since Monday, the incel and 4chan communities have attempted to distance themselves from Manissian.
Posts following the attack on major online hubs for the incel community expressed disbelief that Minassian’s Facebook post could be authentic. “Everything about this situation seems fishy to me,” a moderator of a forum called Incels.me going by “Master” wrote in post on Tuesday. “It was clearly a troll,” another poster wrote on Incels.me.
The Globe and Mail reported that students who spent time with Minassian at Toronto’s Seneca College described him as a socially awkward tech nerd who was good with computers, and did not appear to have violent tendencies or any strong political or religious ties.
“This is a terrible tragedy and our hearts go out to the people who have been affected. There is absolutely no place on our platform for people who commit such horrendous acts. We have found and immediately deleted the suspect’s Facebook account,” a Facebook spokesperson wrote VICE in an email.