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Suspected Driver Of Toronto Van Attack Arrested


In Toronto, authorities are still piecing together what happened when a van plowed into pedestrians on a sidewalk this afternoon. Ten people are dead, and 15 others are injured. Police located the vehicle and arrested the driver. He's been named as Alek Minassian, a 25-year-old student who had not been known to police before. Here's what Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders said when he was asked if there's any connection to terrorism.


CHIEF MARK SAUNDERS: It is early. We're not excluding anything. It's our process, though, to follow what we have. And so the statement is accurate at this point in time based on what we have that there's nothing that does put it - to compromise the - that the national security footprint not excluded. But right now that's where we are.

SHAPIRO: We're joined now by reporter Natalie Kalata of the CBC. Thanks for speaking to us this evening.

NATALIE KALATA: You're welcome, Ari.

SHAPIRO: I understand you're at the hospital in Toronto where victims have been taken. What's it like there?

KALATA: That's right. Well, we've seen police officers and detectives come in and out of the hospital here, which is not too far away from the scene of where this attack all took place. I can tell you I spoke to some detectives who tell me that they are talking to those victims who can speak about what happened. They are expected to come back here (unintelligible) as well to talk again to more individuals.

I also saw police escort a man into the hospital. He is a family member of one of the victims who has passed away. We know that 10 people are dead. Fifteen people are injured. Ten of those individuals were brought to the hospital where I am now. We know that two were brought in with what they called vital signs absent. That means they had no vital signs. They were pronounced dead at the hospital. Five were in critical condition. Three are in what they called serious condition. This is very much an ongoing situation.

What we also know - the big problem here with the hospital is that many of these people don't appear to have any kind of ID on them, so the hospital is trying to identify these individuals and contact their family. That's an ongoing challenge right now, Ari.

SHAPIRO: Wow. And do you have any sense of the state of the other injured - you know, how stable they are, whether the death toll is likely to go up?

KALATA: Well, we know that it just went up about 20 minutes ago, that the death toll did increase from nine to 10. So we're waiting for confirmation from hospital that it was one of, in fact, the individuals who was here. So we are getting that information as it comes in. But again, it's a fluid situation. The extent of the injuries in terms of what exactly they are - they're not releasing that information to us right now. What we do know is that of the 10 individuals that were brought here, all of them were adults. So that is something that was of course a concern earlier on. So that's what...


KALATA: ...We have right now. But as you imagine, it's a fluid situation.

SHAPIRO: We've been hearing testimony from eyewitnesses throughout the evening. There was just a news conference with city officials where they filled in some more details about what's known about how this unfolded this afternoon. What can you tell us?

KALATA: Well, that is of course the question that a lot of people want answered - is, was this or is this a terrorist attack? What is the motivation behind this? Unfortunately we don't have the answer to that right now, as you heard Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders saying. They're keeping all their options open. However, a government source who was briefed on the situation and spoke to us on the condition of anonymity 'cause he was not authorized to speak to the public did say that this person who they have under arrest - as of right now, they have not found any connection to any organized terrorist group. But that is of course - all could change as this investigation continues. That is the latest of what we're hearing right now.

SHAPIRO: Well, I'm sure people there in Toronto are very shaken up, especially at the hospital where you are. Thank you for speaking to us this evening.

KALATA: You're welcome.

SHAPIRO: That's Natalie Kalata, a reporter for the CBC, speaking with us from Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, where the victims were sent tonight. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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