Torontonians struggle to process Monday’s van attack

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At 1.30 pm on Monday, Toronto was in a way changed forever when Alek Minassian ploughed a rental van into hapless pedestrians on a Yonge Street sidewalk killing ten, and badly injuring and maiming 13 others.

Investigators are still struggling to determine what prompted this young man to carry out such a heinous and senseless attack on innocent pedestrians on that lovely afternoon.

Few clues are emerging from investigations and it has been discovered that minutes before carrying out the rampage, the 25-year-old posted on Facebook what appears to be a message praising a man who vowed to “destroy” women who rejected him.

“All hail the Supreme Gentleman Elliot Rodger!” reads the post. The accolade apparently refers to the California killer who carried out a “day of retribution” in 2014.

Among the many innocent victims was Renuka Amarasingha. On Wednesday morning, the Toronto District School Board identified Amarasingha as having died in the attack.

John Molloy, director of education, said Amarasingha was a former TDSB adult student who had worked as a nutrition services staff member at several schools since 2015. She was also a single mother to a young son.

“It is with heavy hearts that we are learning of the death of a TDSB staff member whose life was tragically cut short,” wrote John Molloy, director of education, in a statement.

Toronto police are still trying to piece together the motive behind the van attack that left 10 people dead and whether the suspect’s frustrations with women contributed to the rampage.

There is a theory being explored that most of the victims in the attack were “predominantly female,” but there’s no evidence that suspect Alek Minassian was bypassing men or deliberately targeting women. Because in a rampage of this kind, it has to be more indiscriminate and the fact that there were more women could simply be a coincidence.

Hundreds of Torontonians braved the rain outside Air Canada Centre on Wednesday night to cheer on the city’s teams as they played in pivotal games. The moment was even more significant and poignant following the horrific events of Monday.

Five of Toronto’s professional sports teams were in action with four of them — the Maple Leafs, Raptors, Toronto FC, and Marlies — in playoff games. Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment hosts an outdoor viewing party beside Air Canada Centre for all Leafs and Raptors post-season games, and the corporation stepped up to host a double-sized celebration for those two teams, with smaller ones dedicated to Toronto FC and the Marlies.

Event organizers worked with Toronto Police Services to insure the safety of fans. Maple Leaf Square viewing parties are usually directly beside the arena, but with the additional screens for the NHL playoff game police and organizers split the square into two large fenced-off areas. Traffic was barred from the surrounding streets and fans were searched before entering the square. No one protested the security, and many felt comforted by the time they went home regardless of whether their favourite team won or not. -CINEWS

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