Suspect in deadly 2018 van attack in Toronto said he ‘accomplished my mission’
A newly released video shows a man who allegedly used a van to kill 10 pedestrians in Toronto last year telling police that he belonged to an online community of sexually frustrated men who plot attacks against people who have sex.
Alek Minassian faces 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder in connection with the April 23, 2018, attack.
It drew attention to an online world of sexual isolation, rage and misogyny after the suspect invoked an uprising by “involuntary celibates” and said he had contact with a California killer who seethed at women for rejecting him.
Minassian, 26, is accused of driving 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 has yet to enter a plea. His trial begins in February, but a publication ban on his interrogation by police was lifted Friday. The police interview took place just hours after the attack.
“I feel like I accomplished my mission,” Minassian said when asked by the detective how he feels about the death of 10 people.
Minassian, who said he never had a girlfriend and was a virgin, acknowledged he used the van as a weapon and said he wanted to inspire more attacks.
“I know of several other guys over the internet who feel the same way,” he said, adding that they are “too cowardly to act on their anger.”
Minassian calls himself an “incel,” short for involuntary celibate. The incel community is an online subculture linked to other attacks too, including in California and Florida. It promotes the misogynistic idea that men are entitled to have sex with women.
Over time, “incel” has become a buzzword for certain men infuriated at being rejected by women and prone to float ideas for violent payback, according to sociologists and others who study them.
Like-minded people in internet forums sometimes use “Chad” and “Stacy” as dismissive slang for men and women with more active sex lives.
Minassian said he discussed his sexual frustrations on the website 4chan, which has become notorious as a place for extremists to post their views.
Minassian said he was in contact with Elliot Rodger, a community college student who killed six people and wounded 13 in shooting and stabbing attacks in 2014 in Isla Vista, near UC Santa Barbara, before shooting himself to death.
Rodger had railed in a manifesto and online videos about women who shunned him and called for an incel “overthrow” of what he saw as feminist domination.
Minassian said he was “radicalized” around the time of the Isla Vista attack.
“I felt it was time to take action and not just sit on the sidelines and just fester in my own sadness,” he said.
Minassian also said in 2013 he went to a Halloween party and was laughed at by women with whom he tried to socialize. He said he was upset the women gave affection to bigger men.
“I was angry that they would give their love and affection to obnoxious brutes,” he said.
Minassian said he planned the attack for a month. He said he wanted a van that wasn’t too big, one he could maneuver.
“The van was the perfect medium size to use as my weapon,” he said.
“I’m thinking that this is it, this is the day of retribution,” he said. “I was driving down Yonge [Street] because I knew it would be a busy area, and then as soon as I saw the pedestrians, I just decided to go for it.”
He said he would have kept going but something obscured his view.
“The only reason I stop my attack was because someone’s drink got splashed on my windshield and I was worried that I would crash,” he said. “I wanted to do more, but I’ve kind of been foiled by a lack of visibility.”
Minassian said he wished he had had an intimate relationship, but only once asked a girl out in 2012.
“I did ask a girl out once, but she rejected me,” he said. “I felt crushed at that point.”
His lawyer, Boris Bytensky, declined to comment Thursday ahead of the tape’s release.
Justice Anne Molloy, who will oversee the trial next year, said in August the police statement will be one of the prosecution’s most important pieces of evidence at trial. Malloy said Minassian’s state of mind will be relevant.
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