Toronto Police chief on van attack: “The officer did a fantastic job”

Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders on the van attack that killed 10 people.
Toronto van attack police chief John Tory Kathleen Wynne
Toronto Mayor John Tory, left to right, Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders, Premier Wynne and Ralph Goodale, Federal Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, walk together towards a news conference after viewing the scene where nine people died and 16 others were injured when a van mounted a sidewalk and struck multiple pedestrians Toronto on Monday, April 23, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders faced a barrage of questions from reporters late Monday about the van attack that killed 10 people. This is an abridged, edited transcript of that scrum.

Media: Mr. Goodale (Minister of Public Safety) said that this is not something that is connected to national security. What does that mean? What do we know about what the motive may have been? How have we been able to discount that and does that mean we are not calling this an act of terror?

Chief: If you listen to what the minister said he did not dismiss it, he said ‘at this point with respect to what we have right now.’ So you can appreciate that this is very early in the investigation, there is no avenue that we won’t explore…it is a multi-agency approach, we open all the lanes at the start and then we follow where the evidence takes us.

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Media: Was the suspect known to you?

Chief: There’s nothing on our files, we’ve looked right across. There’s nothing that we have on him right now.

Media: Can you explain to us how he was arrested without incident and not shot?

Chief: It’s directly related to the high-calibre training that takes place. The officers here are taught to use as little force as possible in any given situation…the officer did a fantastic job with respect to utilizing his ability of understanding the circumstance and the environment and having a peaceful resolution at the end of the day.

Media: Did he have a gun when he was arrested?

Chief: There’s nothing that indicates he has a gun, no.

Media: Are you looking for anyone else?

Chief: That’s part of the investigation as well. We need to identify whether or not there are more people, if he’s working in concert with anyone or if this is just a lone act of his own doing.

READ: Toronto van attack witnesses recall the horror: ‘Hit and go, hit and go. It didn’t stop’

Media: The Armenian Genocide commemoration is tomorrow. Is there any suggestion at all that may have set him off, we understand he’s Armenian.

Chief: I have a lot of resources that are doing the investigative work with respect to intelligence, we’re working collaboratively with our federal counterparts, with our provincial counterparts. We’re doing threat assessments right across the city to make sure that the public is reassured that they are safe. This is something that we do take seriously, anything that involves a loss of life.

Media: Is the city safe tonight?

Chief: Yes the city is safe.

Media: What extra have you done to ensure the city is safe?

Chief: One of the things that we’re doing is we’re only doing the priority calls right now, the critical calls. The non-emergency calls, we’re pushing off. We’ve expanded our footprint with respect to keeping our day shifts, they’re working longer. The evening shifts, we brought them in earlier.  Non-uniform people that do have use of force options are put on standby so that they will be called out if needs be. We’re re-evaluating our threat assessments to make sure they are in sympatico with keeping the community safe at all times.

Media: Have any of the victims not been identified?

Chief: Yes, some of the people have not been identified. The majority of them are not identified right now.