Screenshot via CBC News/Twitter
- The lone police officer who faced a tense standoff with the man suspected of driving a van into pedestrians in Toronto is being hailed a hero for his actions.
- The officer did not fire his weapon at the suspect before taking him into custody, despite harrowing moments captured on video that showed the suspect gesturing aggressively at the officer and claiming to have a gun.
The lone police officer who faced a tense stand-off with the man suspected of driving a van into pedestrians in Toronto is being hailed a hero for his actions.
The officer did not fire his weapon at the suspect, identified as 25-year-old Alex Minassian, despite harrowing moments captured on video that showed the suspect gesturing aggressively at the office and claiming to have a gun.
The standoff on Monday began after a white van jumped onto a sidewalk at a busy intersection in Toronto and struck a crowd of pedestrians. At least 10 people were killed and 15 were injured, police confirmed.
Video footage following the incident shows Minassian exiting the van, which was parked on a sidewalk and engaging in a heated face-off with a lone police officer.
Watch video of the encounter below:
The officer maintained his composure during the minutes-long standoff, despite the suspect pointing an object at the officer as he yelled at the officer to "kill me" and "shoot me in the head."
The officer orders the suspect to "get on the ground," but does not fire his weapon as he closes in on the man to take him into custody.
Toronto Police Service chief Mark Saunders said during a news conference after the attack: "The officer did a fantastic job with respect to utilizing his ability of understanding the circumstance and environment and having a peaceful resolution at the end of the day."
“Grateful for the brave and professional response of Toronto police and other first responders to the horrific attack at Yonge and Finch,” Canada’s Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale tweeted.
Mike McCormack, president of the Toronto Police Association, told The Globe and Mail that officer handled the situation appropriately, according to protocol.
"The officer would have been doing a continual threat assessment," McCormack said.
McCormack admitted that under pressure, the officer could have justified using his weapon. "But this officer looked at what was going on and determined he could handle it the way that he did," he said.
He added: "People are right. This guy is a hero.”
McCormack said the officer is believed to be in his 30s and has been with the force for more than seven years. The officer was reportedly "shaken" by the death toll from the attack.
"He said, 'Mike, I just did my job. What I did was no big deal. But look at these poor people,'" McCormack said.
The incident comes at a time when police agencies in the US have made headlines for fatally shooting suspects during encounters in which the suspect was suffering from the affects of mental illness or, in many more cases, did not have a weapon.