A van plowed into pedestrians on a sidewalk at a busy intersection in Toronto on Monday afternoon, killing 10 people and injuring 15 others, police said. Authorities said terrorism wasn’t suspected.
Mental illness is the leading theory for a motive, several U.S. and Canadian law enforcement officials briefed on the investigation told NBC News. And while it appeared that the suspect acted deliberately, terrorism doesn’t seem to have been his motive, U.S. law enforcement officials said.
The suspect had been involved in an online discussion about Elliot Rodger, the man accused of carrying out a 2014 shooting rampagenear Santa Barbara, California, that killed six people, the law enforcement officials said.
Canadian Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, who was already in Toronto for a meeting of G7 security ministers, told reporters that after consulting with security and police agencies, he also believed that the attack wasn’t a terrorist incident.
“On the basis of all available information at the present time, there would appear to be no national security connection,” he told reporters Monday night.
“Yes, the city is safe,” he said, adding, however, that investigators would be at work for a long time.
“This is not over,” he said. “We are far away from being over.”
“The driver was swerving back and forth between the sidewalk and the road,” said DeMatos, 23. “I saw where the van hit two people and then kept going.”
Another witness, Phil Zullo, told Canadian Press that he saw police arresting a man who had been driving a Ryder rental truck and that he witnessed people “strewn all over the road.”
“I must have seen about five, six people being resuscitated by bystanders and by ambulance drivers,” Zullo told the news agency. “It was awful. Brutal.”
In a statement late Monday, the White House pledged any support Canada might need. “The United States stands with the Canadian people in the aftermath of today’s tragic event in Toronto,” the statement said. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of those affected, and we wish a full recovery to those injured.”