OTTAWA, Ontario — Nine people were killed and 16 injured when a white rental van drove onto a sidewalk in a busy district of Toronto on Monday, police said.
Acting Toronto Police Chief Peter Yuen told a news conference that one man is in custody following the incident, which occurred along Yonge Street in a busy commercial part of the city’s northern section of North York.
The police official declined to take questions and did not say whether he considers the incident deliberate or terror related. "Pray for our victims," is all he would say.
Sunnybrook Hospital, a trauma center near the site, said it had received 10 victims, all of them adults. Two were pronounced dead, five patients were in critical condition and the remaining were in serious conditions, according to Dr. Dan Cass, the hospital’s executive vice president.
Several eyewitnesses described a scene of carnage as the van left the road and rammed into pedestrians shortly before 1:30 pm EDT on a sunny warm spring day.
Police closed the area near Yonge and Finch streets, busy arteries in the northern part of the sprawling city, which is Canada’s largest.
"He started going down on the sidewalk and crumbling down people one by one," Ali Shaker, who was driving down Yonge Street, told CTV News. "He just destroyed so many people’s lives." He said the driver was traveling at an estimated 35 to 45 miles an hour, adding that he saw a baby stroller flying in the air.
Nick Santa, who was studying at a nearby Starbucks coffee shop, told Global TV News the driver appeared to be in control of the vehicle. "He just drove straight through and he managed to make a perfect turn at the corner too."
Canadian news outlets broadcast video footage taken by a bystander with a cellphone, showing what appeared to be the arrest of the driver by a Toronto police officer.
A man clad in black, presumably the driver, is seen standing beside the Ryder rental van stopped on the sidewalk with its front end damaged. A police office confronts the man, who has his arms raised, and tells him repeatedly to surrender. At the end, the man in black is seen on the ground and is handcuffed.
The incident, which occurred just before 1:30 p.m., prompted police to shut down the area near the North York Civic Center, a municipal facility. Transit officials closed a nearby subway line.
In Ottawa, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told journalists as he entered Parliament that "our hearts go out to anyone affected" and that he was monitoring the situation closely.
Canada’s Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale told reporters that police forces from several jursidicitions were cooperating in the investigation of the incident.