Friends Flummoxed by ‘Awkward’ Toronto Van Attacker

Alek Minassian, 25, is accused of mowing down 25 pedestrians on busy Yonge Street in Toronto, killing 10. Former classmates were shocked by the acts of the painfully awkward man. One said he couldn’t conceive that Minassian had learned to drive–let alone carry out such an attack.

The suspect in Monday’s Toronto van attack was a man who traveled through the world with two identities: One as a socially awkward student who rarely spoke, barely functioned and had difficulty controlling tics, and another as an expert-level whiz who could lead classmates through the intricacies of computer chips, says the Globe and Mail. Police identified the suspect in a vehicle attack that killed at least 10 people and injured 15 as Alek Minassian, 25, of Richmond Hill, Ont. He was not previously known to police. His former classmates in high school and at Seneca College in Toronto said Minassian had no known religious or political affiliations or strong views on anything, nor a penchant for violence. Former classmates said they believed he could never learn how to drive, let alone carry out an attack. 

They described Minassian as someone with a significant social or mental disability who had a hard time speaking to people, difficulty under pressure, and constant physical tics where he shook his hands and tapped his head. One man expressed disbelief that Minassian would even be capable of renting and piloting an automobile. One Seneca student said Minassian sent a group message “out of the blue” on April 19 telling off his classmates. At 1:30 p.m. Monday, he plowed a rented van into pedestrians on the sidewalk of busy Yonge Street in Toronto’s center city, traveling at speeds of up to 55 mph.