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Nine people dead, 16 injured in Toronto van attack

Toronto Police say the driver is in custody as part of the ongoing investigation.

by Tamara Khandaker, Rachel Browne, Vanmala Subramaniam, and Hilary Beaumont
Apr 23 2018, 6:17pm

Canadian Press

Nine people were killed and 16 others were injured after a van drove into pedestrians at a busy Toronto intersection Monday afternoon, according to the Toronto Police. The driver of the van has been taken into police custody as part of the investigation.

The Toronto Police say they do not know the cause or reason behind the incident. and they have not released the name of the driver.

"It is a time to be as calm as we can be," Toronto Mayor John Tory told reporters at a press conference Monday afternoon.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale told reporters at a press conference in Toronto late Monday afternoon that there is no change in the country’s terrorism risk level at this time, and wouldn’t comment on whether the incident might be related to terrorism.

Videos from the scene posted on social media, show three police officers handcuffing a man against the rear of their cruiser.

VICE News spoke to a witness, Reza Bahramian, who said he was sitting in front of a Starbucks in the area when he noticed a van "barreling" towards him. He ran out of the way, but then tried to follow it. Everyone was screaming, he said.

Bahramian said he saw four bodies on the ground, barely moving, and blood everywhere. He said he tried to help resuscitate them, before an ambulance arrived about 30 minutes later.

Taras Kulish, a lawyer with firm Steinberg Title Hope & Israel LLP, said he was finishing his meal at a restaurant, Taspan Kebab, on Yonge Street at around 1:45 p.m. when a white van zoomed by on the sidewalk going at an estimated 30 km/hr

“It took out a part of the corner of the fence and the deck,” he said. “There was some wood that splintered and went up in the air, so we knew something was seriously wrong.”

He and his friend ran outside the restaurant and saw the van continuing south. People in their cars were chasing the van, trying to get him to stop. “We got out on the sidewalk and saw one man crumpled and twisted on the ground.” He said the man was in his 30s or 40s.

“We could see he had been dragged. He was twisted and his clothes were all ripped. ...He already had bruising on his hip. About 50 feet from where he lay, you could see blood on the sidewalk from the initial hit.”

“He was bleeding from his head. He was barely conscious, but he was conscious. And he was definitely in a load of pain."

Kulish and others gathered around the man to help. One woman talked to the man, who was barely conscious. Kulish went inside the restaurant and asked for towels and water.

Meanwhile, Kulish heard sirens so he flagged down a firetruck and led firefighters to the injured man.

“I don’t know whether he survived,” he said. “We just hope that this fellow, I hope he’s OK.”

Another witness told VICE News that she saw a white van parked, with the front of the vehicle "demolished."

"Our hearts go out to anyone affected," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters on Monday afternoon. "Obviously we're going to have more to learn and more to say in the coming hours."