‘I accomplished my mission,’ accused in Yonge Street van attack told police
By The Canadian PressNews van attack vehicular attack
TORONTO — Hours after driving a rented van down a busy Toronto sidewalk killing 10 people and injuring 16 others, Alek Minassian described himself to police as a 25-year-old virgin seeking retribution for years of sexual rejection and ridicule by women.
As a college student, he said he was “crushed” when he asked a woman out and she turned him down. But the disappointment morphed into anger at a college Halloween party in 2013.
“I walked in and attempted to socialize with some girls, however, they all laughed at me and held the arms of the big guys,” Minassian, of Richmond Hill, Ont., told Det. Rob Thomas during a four-hour interview inside a north Toronto police station.
“I was angry that they would give their love and affection to obnoxious brutes,” he said.
The transcript and video of the police interview were released Friday following a successful legal challenge by several media organizations, including The Canadian Press, to have the publication ban lifted.
Minassian, now 26, is facing a judge-alone trial in February 2020 on 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder. His state of mind at the time of the incident is expected to be the central issue at trial.
The April 23, 2018, incident — known as the Yonge Street van attack — made international headlines and triggered a public conversation about the so-called “incel movement,” a fringe internet subculture that attracts males who are involuntarily celibate.
It was in the bowels of the internet that Minassian said he discovered like-minded men who hated women, including two Americans who went on to commit mass murders.
As an incel, he saw himself as someone at the bottom rung of society, and on a spring day last year, he said he decided to take action.
“I’m thinking that this is it, this is the day of retribution,” a calm Minassian — dressed in a white jump suit with white booties — tells Thomas. “I was driving down Yonge because I knew it would be a busy area and then as soon as I saw the pedestrians, I just decided to go for it.”
At the beginning of the interview, Thomas, a senior investigative interviewer with the Toronto police sex crimes unit, walks into the room, hands Minassian a bottle of water and then shakes his hand.
“You probably had better days than this I guess, eh?” Thomas says.
“Yeah,” Minassian replies. “Well I am a little shaken to be honest … it’s not my usual day, obviously.”
Thomas, dressed in a dark suit, sits down about a metre away from Minassian.
“I want to talk to you,” Thomas says. “We’re going to spend a good deal of time together.”
At first, Minassian is reluctant to answer many questions, but slowly he opens up.
He talks about feeling lonely and looking for friends on social media platforms and online forums such as Reddit and 4Chan. He explains in chilling detail how people like him would take the power by killing “alpha males,” known in the community as Chads, so that women, whom they call Staceys, would date incels.
“It’s basically a movement of angry incels such as myself who are unable to get laid,” Minassian says. “We want to overthrow the Chads, which would force the Staceys to be forced to reproduce with the incels.”
Minassian goes on to tell Thomas about his online chats with Elliot Rodger and Chris Harper-Mercer. Rodger, 22, killed six people and injured 14 others in Isla Vista, Calif., on May 23, 2014, before dying of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. In a video and written document, he called his attack retribution against women and the men who date them.
Harper-Mercer, 26, shot and killed nine people at his college in Oregon on Oct. 1, 2015, before killing himself. In a manifesto, he described a lonely existence as a virgin and called other mass shooters, including Rodger, gods.
Despite engaging in online chats about the incel movement, Minassian says he didn’t plan any concrete action until about a month before the Yonge Street attack.
He says he booked a rental van in early April, opting for the vehicle because “it was larger than a car, therefore large enough to be effective but not so large that it made manoeuvrability hard.”
Minassian tells the detective he had just completed a software development degree at Toronto’s Seneca College and was looking for work.
He chose April 23, he says, because he “felt it would be more symbolic if I had completed my exams.”
The morning of the attack, Minassian says he checked his email for job offers, went for a walk around the Richmond Hill, Ont., neighbourhood where he lived with his parents, and spent a few hours playing video games. He then picked up the van shortly before 1 p.m.
Once inside the van, he says he posted a message on Facebook.
“The Incel Rebellion has already begun! We will overthrow all the Chads and Staceys! All hail the Supreme Gentleman Elliot Rodger!” he wrote.
He then started driving, stopped at a red light at Yonge Street and Finch Avenue, and says he knew it was time. When the light turned green, Minassian says he accelerated and aimed at pedestrians.
“I speed the van towards them and I allow the van to collide with them,” he says. “Some people get knocked down on the way, some people roll over the top of the van.”
Minassian says he continued to use the van “as a weapon” until something obscured his view.
“The only reason I stopped my attack was because someone’s drink got splashed on my windshield and I was worried that I would crash,” he says. “I wanted to do more but I’ve kind of been foiled by a lack of visibility.”
Minassian says then he pulled into a side street, saw police approaching and got out of the van. His plan, he says, was to get shot and killed by police.
He pointed his wallet at Const. Ken Lam hoping the officer would confuse it for a gun and shoot him. Videos of the tense encounter taken by witnesses showed the lone officer single-handedly handcuffing Minassian without firing a shot.
As the interview wraps, the detective asks Minassian how he felt about those who died or were hurt in the van attack.
“I feel like I accomplished my mission,” Minassian says.
— Liam Casey
This story by the Canadian Press was originally published on Sept. 27, 2019.
News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc. 2019
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