TORONTO—A man in his mid-20s plowed a rented van into people walking along a busy Toronto thoroughfare on Monday, killing at least 10 and injuring 15, and rattled one of North America’s safest major cities.
Police said they arrested the driver, Alek Minassian, 25 years old, of Ontario. Authorities said Monday evening that they were still trying to determine his motive.
“We cannot come to any firm conclusions at this stage,” said Canada’s Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale. But he said there was “no national security connection” to the attack, based on the evidence police have seen so far.
Toronto Chief of Police Mark Saunders said the attack “looks intentional.”
The casualties occurred on one of the city’s first warm spring days, along Toronto’s main artery, Yonge Street. Mass killings have been much rarer in Canada than in the U.S. and Europe, and many said they were stunned.
“I’m at a loss for words. I can’t believe that this has happened here. Things like this don’t happen in Canada,” said, Melissa Phillips, a nurse who was walking her dog Monday evening just steps away from where pedestrians were hit earlier.
The van jumped up onto the sidewalk around 1:30 p.m. Monday, hitting pedestrians as it headed south for about a mile. Police said 26 minutes lapsed between the first 911 call and the driver’s arrest.
The area where the incident occurred is home to people of many ethnic backgrounds, said John Filion, a city councilor representing the area where the incident took place, but is predominantly home to immigrants from Iran, Iraq, Korea and elsewhere in Asia. Businesses in the area include banks, pensions, and government buildings, as well as retail shops.
“This is the kind of community where you rarely even encounter angry people, let alone something like this,” said Mr. Filion. “It’s a such a shock.”
Toronto resident Reza Bahramian said he was out enjoying the nice weather when he saw a van “cut everything.” He and some other neighbors started chasing after the van and yelling for it to stop. They saw about four people get hit.
He said he helped one woman who was struck, with CPR, for about half-hour before paramedics arrived. “Blood flowed on the sidewalk,” he said, referring to the numerous injuries of people who were hit.
Another witness said in an interview he saw two responders trying to give CPR to two people lying in the street, but eventually the responders covered their bodies with tarps.
Witness Alex Shaker told CTV news that the van was moving at high speed along the sidewalk, striking everything in its way.
“People just with a stroller, with their baby, everything was flying down one by one. And he was going really fast,” Mr. Shaker told the network.
The CP24 channel aired witnesses’ videos that showed a black-clad man by the white van appearing to point something at a police officer before he drops it and is forced to the ground and handcuffed.
In Canada, mass-casualty events are relatively rare, but when they happen, they loom large: The country reeled after 14 women were killed by gunman at the Universite du Montreal’s Ecole Polytechnique in 1989, and again in 2016 after four people were killed in a shooting in La Loche, Saskatchewan.
On Monday afternoon, over a mile of Yonge Street was cordoned off with yellow police tape and the area was swarming with cars from both the Toronto police and the Ontario provincial police. Police were interviewing passersby and asking if they had witnessed the incident.
“I ask everyone to await the results of the police investigation and avoid speculation,” Toronto Mayor John Tory said.
“It was with great sadness that I heard about the tragic and senseless attack that took place in Toronto,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement Monday night. He said officials were monitoring events closely, and would work with law-enforcement agencies across the country to ensure Canadians’ security.
“As of now, #ISIS channels are not promoting the #Toronto vehicular attack, which contains staples of ISIS-inspired events,” said Rita Katz, executive director at SITE Intel Group, which monitors jihadist activity online, on Twitter. ISIS channels typically share images and statements celebrating jihadist attacks on the encrypted messaging app Telegram, and the terror group has previously used vehicles in attacks on the streets of major cities such as London and New York.
Attacks involving either a van or truck striking pedestrians have also unfolded in New York City and some of Europe’s urban centers.
Sayfullo Saipov, a 29-year-old Uzbek man, was charged with killing eight people and injuring 12 others last October after driving a rented truck down a crowded Manhattan bike path. Law-enforcement officials say the deadly drive had been planned for weeks and was done in the name of Islamic State. Mr. Saipov has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
In Europe over the past two years, 86 people were killed after a truck drove through crowds watching Bastille Day fireworks in Nice, France; 12 people died after a rejected Tunisian asylum seeker rammed a stolen truck into a busy Christmas market in Berlin; and in Barcelona, 13 died and over 100 were injured after a van mowed down pedestrians on city’s most famous central thoroughfare, Las Ramblas.
Write to Vipal Monga at firstname.lastname@example.org and Jacquie McNish at Jacquie.McNish@wsj.com