TORONTO (AP) — A man accused of killing 10 people when he drove a van into crowds of pedestrians on a busy Toronto sidewalk in 2018 has admitted to planning and carrying out the attack, a court heard Thursday.
Alek Minassian faces 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 of attempted murder in connection with the attack on April 23, 2018. His trial is scheduled to begin in front of a judge, without a jury, in April.
Minassian told police shortly after the attack that he carried it out in retribution for years of sexual rejection and ridicule by women. His arrest drew attention to an online world of people expressing sexual loneliness, 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.
Eight women and two men ranging in age from 22 to 94 died.
Prosecutor John Rinaldi read out an agreed statement of facts between the prosecution and defense.
“While driving the van in the said area, (Minassian) drove his van into, or otherwise struck, at least 26 people, 10 of those people were killed and 16 injured to various degrees,” Rinaldi said.
The 27-year-old is in court for a pre-trial motion hearing where his lawyer, Boris Bytensky, is fighting over the admissibility of a statement Minassian gave to a booking officer shortly after his arrest.
As part of a standard set of questions, the booking officer asked Minassian if he had any illnesses.
“Yes. I am a murdering piece of shit,” Minassian said.
The defense concedes Minassian made that statement, but argues Minassian’s constitutional rights — the right to remain silent — were violated.
Several victims and families of those who died in the attack were in the courtroom. Some wiped tears away and others stared Minassian when the video showed him making that statement to police.
Minassian later told police in a lengthy interview after the attack that he carried it out in retribution for years of sexual rejection and ridicule by women. He told a detective that he was part of the so-called “incel movement,” which is a fringe internet subculture that attracts males who are involuntarily celibate.
Minassian told Det. Rob Thomas that he saw himself on the bottom rung of society as an incel, and wanted to be part of an “uprising” in an effort to change his societal status.
“This is the day of retribution,” Minassian told Thomas.
He also told the detective he had “accomplished” his mission.
Minassian conceded that interview in court on Thursday, which will now form part of the agreed facts in the case.
The judge has said the case will turn on Minassian’s state of mind at the time of the attack, not whether he did it.