TORONTO — Residents of Canada’s largest — and most cosmopolitan — city are trying to wrap their heads around the carnage that left 10 people dead and 15 seriously injured here.
A grisly van attack on a busy thoroughfare filled with pedestrians taking advantage of a warm spring day is the type of violence that Canadians are more accustomed to hearing about happening to their neighbors to the south.
"This is the type of thing you see on news, but in the States," said Christopher Thorne, 30, a landscaper who was among the scores of mourners who visited near the crime scene Tuesday to pay respect to those killed in the worst mass killing incident Canada has seen in decades.
"How could someone do this?" Thorne added. "This doesn’t happen in Canada."
The day after Alek Minassian, 25, allegedly used a rented Ryder truck to mow down pedestrians along Toronto's iconic Yonge Street, Canadians are grieving and looking for answers to the explain the attack.
The suspect, who had a brief court appearance Tuesday, is charged with 10 counts of murder and 13 counts of attempted murder. Minassian turned to a blunt killing method that Islamic State group, or ISIS, terror suspects have employed repeatedly in recent years.
ISIS backers have used trucks or vans to carry out mass casualty attacks on Bastille Day revelers on a crowded promenade in Nice, France; shoppers at a Christmas market in Berlin; a popular tourist area in Barcelona; on London Bridge in the United Kingdom; and on a busy bike path in New York. In 2015, a Somali refugee carried out a similar attack in the Canadian city of Edmonton using a rented U-Haul truck.
Police in Toronto say they are still trying to pin down a motive while expressing certainty that the suspect intentionally plowed into the victims. Authorities say they have yet to find any evidence tying the incident to international terrorism.
But as investigators continue to process the mile-long crime scene, Toronto residents are asking a simple question: Why?
Canada has endured mass casualty incidents before — a 25-year-old man killed 14 women and wounded others at a Montreal University in 1989, and 37 were killed in 1972 when three drunken men set fire to a nightclub where they were refused entry.
But Monday’s lunchtime attack is one of the most brazen in recent memory for the city of 2.6 million people with a relatively low violent crime rate. (Toronto, roughly the same size as Chicago, had 61 murders in 2017. Chicago had 650 murders last year.)
In the hours after the attack, video footage from witnesses emerged of police showing restraint in their confrontation with the suspect, who can be heard screaming at officers to shoot him in the head. After initially refusing, he surrendered to police and is in custody.
While American law enforcement analysts on U.S. cable networks expressed admiration for the police's conduct, some Torontonians found the officers’ response less remarkable.
"In the U.S., that guy would have been lit up," said Carly Musclow, 30, a resident who lives near the scene of the crime. "The police handled the situation as they should. I would call it being fair."
Jordan Singer, 40, who lives just a block from the part of Yonge Street where the police said the assailant began his killing spree, said he was still coming to grips with what happened.
About 15 minutes before the attack, Singer was shopping at a pharmacy near the crime scene. He intended to stop by his bank — just a few steps away from the pharmacy —but decided at the last moment that he wanted to go back to his apartment.
Minutes after he returned home, his phone was buzzing from friends and family who had heard early reports about the incident and called to check on him. He raced back to the scene and saw one of the victims lifeless near his bank.
"I’m kind of messed up," Singer said as he visited the memorial early Tuesday. "It’s shock and feeling numb."
A group of young men from the nearby Baitul Islam Mosque were also among the mourners who lingered at the memorial Tuesday morning.
In the midst of the candles, flowers and poster boards scrawled with condolence messages in English, Korean and Urdu, the young Muslim men paused and prayed for the dead, the injured, the victim’s families and their wounded city.
Imtiaz Ahmed, the imam who leads Baitul Islam Mosque, said that by choosing Yonge Street — which has the distinction of being Canada’s longest — the assailant carried out an attack on a swath of the city that reflects Toronto’s diversity perhaps better than any other.
Billboards of real estate agents with Iranian surnames advertising their services dot a street where restaurateurs sell durian cakes, braised pigs feet with seaweed and Middle Eastern kebabs. There are also plenty of pubs offering hockey night beer and wing specials.
"We are grieving and we are terrified," Ahmed said. "But in this dark time, we have to have a message of love for all, hatred for none. This is needed more than ever before."