Man who used van to kill 10 pedestrians in Toronto guilty

A man who admitted using a van to kill 10 pedestrians in Toronto was found guilty on Wednesday.

Alek Minassian faced 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder in connection with the April 23, 2018, attack that drew attention to an online world of sexual loneliness, rage and misogyny.

His lawyer argued he didn’t know what he was doing was wrong because he has autism spectrum disorder, angering advocates for the rights of autistic individuals. Minassian had pleaded not guilty and his lawyer argued his client was not criminally responsible.

Justice Anne Molloy said his lawyers failed to prove he was not criminally responsible. She said there is no doubt his actions were planned and deliberate and that he was fully aware of what he was doing.

"His attack on these 26 victims that day was an act of a reasoning mind," Molloy said. She noted the man sought and enjoyed notoriety from his actions.

She did not name the accused in her decision, referring to him as “John Doe" and said she hopes that he will no longer be named.

The verdict was livestreamed on YouTube because of the pandemic. He faces an automatic life sentence in prison and will be sentenced on March 18.

Minassian, 28, told police he belonged to an online community of sexually frustrated men, some of whom have plotted attacks on people who have sex. He admitted to police that he drove a rental van into crowds of pedestrians in a busy north Toronto neighborhood. Eight women and two men ranging in age from 22 to 94 died.

Minassian, who said he never had a girlfriend and was a virgin, rented the van and admitted to police he used the van as a weapon and said he wanted to inspire more attacks.

He called himself an “incel,” short for “involuntary celibate,” an online subculture that has been linked to other attacks in California and Florida and that often promotes the idea men are entitled to have sex with women.

The trial took place on Zoom last year because of the coronavirus pandemic

Autism Canada denounced what it called “egregious claims” by Minassian’s lawyer that the man didn’t know what he was doing was wrong because he has autism spectrum disorder.