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Grandma, student among 8 women killed in Toronto massacre

A photograph of Anne Marie D'Amico, one of eight female victims of the mass killing by a van driver, is shown at a vigil in Toronto
AFP

Ottawa (AFP) – Eight women including a great-grandmother and a single mom were among the 10 pedestrians run down in Toronto this week by a man with an apparent grudge against women, police said Friday.

The deceased ranged in age from 22 to 94 years, and included a Jordanian man visiting his son in Toronto and a South Korean student, Inspector Bryan Bott of the homicide squad told a news conference.

They died when the suspect drove a rented van along a sidewalk in the north end of Canada’s largest city.

“We can tell you today that all victims have been identified and their families have been notified,” Bott said.

The oldest victim, Mary Elizabeth Forsyth, 94, had relied on a walker but took a daily stroll to area shops and to feed the birds. She was unable to move out of the way of the fast-moving van.

Great-grandmother Dorothy Sewell, 80, and Geraldine Brady, 83, who still sold mail-order beauty products, met similar fates.

Anne Marie D’Amico, 30, who worked at a nearby investment management company, and university student So He Chung, 22, had attended the same Toronto high school. They died meters (yards) apart.

Andrea Bradden, 33, also worked in the Toronto north end neighborhood, as did steakhouse chef Chul Min Kang, 45.

Beutis Renuka Amarasingha, 45, was a single mother of a seven-year-old boy and was active in the local Sri Lankan immigrant community.

Munir Abdo Habib Najjar, 85, had only been in Canada with his wife a few weeks to visit their son, a vocalist with the Canadian Arabic Orchestra, when tragedy struck. Ji Hun Kim, 22, from South Korea, was studying in Canada.

Bott also said the confirmed number of people injured has risen to 16, and that two additional attempted murder charges would soon be laid to reflect that number.

The pair of newly identified injured — a 21-year-old man and a 67-year-old woman — had left the scene of the attack before emergency responders arrived but subsequently went to police, officials explained.

“This is a very complex tragedy,” said Ontario chief coroner Dirk Huyer, describing an enormous effort that went into confirming the victims’ identities.

“We needed to do the additional work to ensure that there was no confusion or any potential additional grief,” he said.

The suspect Alek Minassian, 25, of Canada, was arrested on Monday near the scene of the rampage and taken into custody.

In a Facebook post just prior to the killing spree, he praised mass killer Elliot Rodger, a 22-year-old American who murdered six people and then killed himself in California in 2014.

– The first warm day –

 

Rodger had professed frustration over his virginity and women rejecting him.

The suspect’s post also referred to the “Incel Rebellion,” an abbreviation for “involuntarily celibate,” often used in connection with online groups of sexually frustrated men who are known to rant against women. 

“We will overthrow all the Chads and Stacys!” the post read, referring to monikers used in the community to describe people who have no trouble finding sexual partners.

Bott said police “are aware of that post and an investigation into that post and what that post means is part of our investigation.”

Minassian has been charged with 10 counts of premeditated murder, as well as the multiple attempted murder charges related to the injured survivors.

Police said they have obtained area surveillance footage of the incident and videos taken by bystanders, seized unspecified items from the suspect’s home, and interviewed 170 witnesses. They have another 100 or more interviews left to complete. 

Bott said the first victim was struck almost immediately after the suspect started driving the van south along Toronto’s major Yonge Street during a busy lunch hour on the first warm and sunny day of the season.

He described how the van veered into oncoming traffic, mounted the curb, turned into a laneway and snaked back to Yonge Street where it mounted the sidewalk again.

Seven minutes after the first call to an emergency hotline, a lone policeman stopped and arrested Minassian, refusing the suspect’s demands that he be shot.

The suspect is scheduled to appear in court on May 10 for a bail hearing.

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