WARNING: This story contains graphic details.
Asked by a Toronto police detective how he felt knowing that he’d killed 10 people and injured many others, accused mass murderer Alek Minassian said, “I feel like I accomplished my mission.”
Minassian, 28, made the comments in a police interview on April 23, 2018, the day he rented a van and drove it into crowds on Yonge Street, one of Toronto’s major thoroughfares. On Tuesday, a video recording of the interview was played as his trial on 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder got underway. While Minassian admits he carried out the attack, he pleaded not guilty, arguing he is not criminally responsible for the crimes due to his mental state.
Minassian’s trial is taking place via Zoom due to COVID-19.
Much of Detective Rob Thomas’ interview with Minassian focused on the accused’s incel (involuntary celibate) ideology, a misogynist online subculture primarily for men who are resentful that women won’t have sex with them.
In the interview, Minassian said he became radicalized after girls laughed at him when he tried to talk to them at a Halloween party in 2013, instead holding onto other men.
“I felt very angry because I considered myself a supreme gentleman,” Minassian told Thomas. “I was angry that they would give their love and attention to obnoxious brutes.”
(The term “supreme gentleman” was also used by Elliot Rodger, a man who killed six people in Isla Vista, California, in 2014, and was later hailed as an incel hero.)
Minassian told Thomas he had never had an intimate relationship with a woman and was crushed after being rejected.
He claimed he began communicating with Rodger on Reddit. He also claimed he got in contact with Chris Harper-Mercer, who carried out a mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, in October 2015. Both Rodger and Harper-Mercer left behind manifestos. (The court has not yet seen any evidence that corroborated his claim that he spoke to Rodger or Harper-Mercer.)
In the interview, Minassian claimed he and Rodger were planning “strikes on society in order to confuse and shake our nations.” He said they wanted to subjugate “normies”—anyone considered normal by the “unfair standards of society”—and make them acknowledge incels as superior.
When Rodger killed six people and shot himself on May 23, 2014, Minassian said he felt “proud.”
That’s when he said he began frequenting 4chan—an anonymous message board that’s become a hotbed of far-right ideology and conspiracy theories—and becoming more radicalized.
“I felt it was time to take action and not just sit on the sidelines and fester in my own sadness,” he told Thomas.
He said the objective of incels was to “overthrow the Chads… forcing the Stacys to be forced to reproduce with incels.” (Stacys are considered by incels to be desirable women who only hook up with Chads—attractive, popular men.)
Minassian said he started thinking about the van attack “well before” he carried it out. He reserved the van on April 4, 2018, nearly three weeks before the rampage, seeking a van that was powerful enough to be effective but small enough to maneuver. He told police he posted about it in a coded way on 4chan the day before.
“Quite a few people were congratulating me,” he said, including a man who said he was going to carry out a similar attack in November 2018. “I was thinking I would inspire future masses to join me in my uprising as well.”
Agreed statement of facts
The Crown started the trial by reading part of an agreed statement of facts. The details released so far include graphic depictions of how Minassian drove into people at high speed, killing them or leaving them with catastrophic injuries.
Eight of the 10 people who died were women.
Minassian told Thomas that he would have continued the rampage, but one of the victim’s drinks splashed on his windshield.
“I wanted to do more but I’ve kind of been foiled by a lack of visibility,” he said.
On the day of the killings, Minassian, who lived with his family in the suburb of Richmond Hill, got a ride to a Chapters bookstore from his dad around 1 p.m. and then walked to the rental company to pick up the 10-foot van, though he said he thought he would be getting a truck.
After leaving the store, Minassian made his way to Yonge Street, driving south before stopping at a red light at Finch Avenue West. He saw a group of people on the west sidewalk of Yonge and “determined that he was going to begin his ‘mission,’” according to the agreed statement of facts.
He then posted on Facebook, “Private (Recruit) Minassian Infantry 00010, wishing to speak to Sgt 4chan please. C23249161. The Incel Rebellion has already begun! We will overthrow all the Chads and Stacys! All hail the Supreme Gentleman Elliot Rodger!”
After posting to Facebook, Minassian drove into the group of pedestrians on Yonge, striking seven people.
Two women, Ji Hun Kim and So He Chung, both 22, died on scene of “blunt impact chest trauma.”
“Minassian accelerated over top of the victims, never slowing,” said Crown attorney Joe Callaghan. “He drove in one swift move and did not brake when he hit the pedestrians.”
Other victims suffered injuries that included a broken jaw, fractured ribs, brain bleeding, and a dislocated shoulder.
Minassian then drove further south on the west sidewalk of Yonge Street at speeds of 39-47 kilometres per hour, as people screamed and ran. He leaned forward with both hands on the wheel as he drove towards people.
Approaching Tolman Street, he hit Geraldine Brady, 83, killing her. He then ran down Chul Min Kang, 45, from behind. Kang was dragged under the van and died.
He struck another victim, Robert Anderson, 59, who flew into the air and landed on his head, suffering from a bleeding skull; parts of the van fell off during that collision.
Minassian also killed Mary Elizabeth Forsyth, a 94-year-old woman who was walking along Yonge using a walker.
As the rampage continued, cars were honking to warn pedestrians to get out of Minassian’s way.
When he got to Yonge and Parkview Avenue, Minassian ran over and killed Munir Najjar, 85, who flew 2 metres in the air after being struck.
He then drove into another group of six at the intersection at Yonge Street and Park Home Avenue.
“Their bodies flew to the right and to the left of the van,” Callaghan said.
Minassian hit both Anna Marie D’Amico and Beutis Renuka Amarasingha, 45, from behind. D’Amico, 30, died en route to the hospital.
Beverly Smith, 81, suffered major injuries when Minassian ran over her; all of her internal organs were exposed and both legs had to be amputated above the knee.
Approaching Mel Lastman Square, Minassian hit Dorothy Sewell, 80, from behind, causing her to wrap on the front of the van until she fell down. She died.
Andrea Bradden, 33, was walking with a friend from a Starbucks at Mel Lastman Square when Minassian struck her from behind, causing her drink to spill on his windshield. She made contact with Amarasingha, who was still being dragged. Both dislodged from the van and died. Amarasingha had been dragged underneath the van for 152 metres.
The total distance of the rampage was 2.57 kilometres, with Minassian driving on sidewalks for 1.2 kilometres. The statement of facts said Minassian was “driving straight at people” with both hands on the steering wheel, leaning forward.
“There was no warning when Minassian mounted the sidewalk because he was driving so fast. People were not prepared for such an attack,” the document said.
People were “panicking and running for their lives as Minassian was deliberately driving at people, attempting to kill them.”
Minassian stopped the van near Yonge Street and Poyntz Avenue and got out, as an officer confronted him to get down.
He shouted, “I have a gun. Kill me now! Kill me now! Shoot me,” as he pointed what turned out to be a wallet at a Toronto police officer. Eventually he got on the ground.
Later, he told Thomas he wanted to be killed by police but when he realized that wasn’t going to happen, he didn’t want to “encounter a physically painful experience.”
Minassian joined the Canadian Armed Forces for two months in 2017.
He told Thomas, “I was interested in learning how to use weapons, specifically large guns… such as assault rifles.”
He studied software development at Seneca College at York University.
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