Toronto van suspect was ‘harmless’ special-needs student: classmate

The van driver who allegedly mowed down 10 people in Toronto was a special needs high school student who would walk the hallways with his head down and hands tightly clasped — making meowing noises, a classmate recalled.

Alek Minassian stood out for being unusual at Thornlea Secondary School in the northern suburbs of Canada’s largest city, but was never violent, the person said.

“He wasn’t a social person, but from what I remember he was absolutely harmless,” said classmate Shereen Chami.

Thornlea is a school for students with special needs – a blanket term in Canada used to describe people with learning and behavioral problems, as well as physical disabilities. Minassian attended a mix of mainstream and separate classes.

An archived version of his Facebook page said he graduated Thornlea in 2011 and attended Seneca College from 2011 to April 2018. It also listed software development under professional skills.

A blog post from September 2013 said Minassian, 25, began working at Seneca’s Centre for Development of Open Technology. He posted about developing software there until March 2014.

Google’s Android store offers a parking app developed by a man named Alek Minassian.

Minassian was arrested Monday 26 minutes after he allegedly drove a white rental van onto a crowded sidewalk in the north end of Toronto, killing 10 people and injuring 15 others.

After the carnage, he leaped out of the vehicle, pretended to be holding a gun and shouted at police, “Kill me! Shoot me in the head!”

Police said Minassian was not previously known to them. Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders said his actions “definitely looked deliberate.”

With Post wires

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