minassian verdict

Toronto reacts to the Alek Minassian van attack verdict

The verdict for one of the most shocking and devastating crimes in Toronto history, the 2018 van attack that killed 10 pedestrians and injuried 16, has finally been delivered today after a six-week-long virtual trial.

Alek Minassian was found guilty of all 10 counts of murder and 16 counts of attempted murder Wednesday morning for his actions on April 23, 2018, during which he drove a rented van up onto a Yonge Street sidewalk in a deliberate attempt to kill as many people as possible.

Toronto Mayor John Tory quickly reacted to the news, issuing a formal statement in which he thanked Superior Court Justice Anne Molloy for her work on what was an undeniably "difficult case."

"While there will never be complete closure for the families of those who died, those who were injured, or for the city itself, the conclusion of these proceedings will help," he wrote.

"I want those who continue to be impacted by this tragedy to know that Toronto is with you and that we will all continue to support you... Make no mistake, this was an attack fuelled by misogyny and hatred of women and should be treated as such. We must all stand up against this kind of hateful behaviour and those who promote it."

The incident was the worst mass killing in the city and one of the most notorious in the country, with Minassian believed to be affiliated with the incel community and fueled by misogynistic hate.

Toronto police had said soon after the fact that there was no evidence that the crime targeted women in particular despite a cryptic message posted to the perpetrator's Facebook page before the tragedy that used language referencing Elliot Rodger, the man who went on a killing spree in California to punish women for rejecting him in 2014.

A forensic psychiatrist who assessed Minassian revealed at the beginning of the trial in November that the killer was "wishing for more female victims;" young, attractive ones in particular.

As mentioned in the official verdict today, "he said he was motivated by the incel movement as he had been rejected by women and admitted that he frequented incel chatrooms on the internet... When asked if he had anything to say about the fact that he had killed and injured all those people, he stated, 'I feel like I accomplished my mission.'"

His lawyers unsuccessfully argued that he was not criminally responsible, claiming that his autism spectrum disorder rendered him unable to fully appreciate the severity of his act or realize it was wrong.

"It is clear that Mr. Doe knew his actions were legally wrong," the judge stated in her verdict.

"Mr. Doe thought about committing these crimes over a considerable period of time and made a considered decision to proceed. His attack on these 26 victims that day was an act of a reasoning mind, notwithstanding its horrific nature, and notwithstanding that he has no remorse for it and no empathy for his victims."

Reactions to the verdict today have been unanimously celebratory across social media, with residents feeling that justice was rightfully served and that Minassian undeniably knew was he was doing, and did it with intention — but thankfully, not impunity.

Lead photo by

Victoria Frantsev

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