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Police officer says most victims of Toronto attack were women

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TORONTO (AP) - A Toronto police official says that women make up most of the victims of the deadly van attack but it's not yet known if they were deliberately targeted.
    
Toronto Police Services Det. Sgt. Graham Gibson says the 10 people killed and 14 injured were "predominantly" women. But he say he has no indication yet that suspect Alek Minassian was directing his rented van into women as he plowed into pedestrians in a north Toronto neighborhood on Monday.
    
The issue arose because of what police called a "cryptic" Facebook message posted by Minassian just before the incident that suggested he was part of an online community angry over their inability to form relationships with women.
    
Authorities have declined to disclose a possible motive in the attack.
    
Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders says "all the lanes are open with this investigation."

Previously Reported:

Details have begun to emerge about Alek Minassian, who was charged Tuesday with 10 counts of first-degree murder and 13 of attempted murder for driving a van into a crowded sidewalk in Toronto. Here is a look at the 25-year-old suspect in one of the worst mass killings in Canada's modern history.

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A YOUNG MAN FROM SUBURBAN TORONTO, AND A STUNNED FAMILY

Minassian lived with his family in the Toronto suburb of Richmond Hill, on a street of sizeable, well-tended brick homes. Police say he had no criminal record before Monday.

His father, Vahe Minassian, wept and seemed stunned as he watched as his son, showing little emotion, make a brief court appearance Tuesday and be ordered held without bail.

When his father was asked later whether he had any message for the families of the people killed and injured, he said quietly: "I'm sorry."

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A "SOCIALLY AWKWARD" STUDENT

Minassian attended Seneca College, according to his LinkedIn profile; a spokeswoman for the Toronto-area school didn't immediately respond to an inquiry about him Tuesday. Another student, Joseph Pham, told The Toronto Star that Minassian was in a computer programming class with him just last week.

Pham described Minassian as a "socially awkward" student who kept to himself: "He didn't really talk to anyone."

Before college, Minassian attended Thornlea Secondary School in Richmond Hill, graduating in 2011. A Thornlea classmate, Ari Blaff, told CBC News he recalls Minassian was "sort of in the background," not the center of any particular group of friends.

"He wasn't overly social," Blaff told the news broadcaster.

Both Thornlea and Seneca declined to discuss him Tuesday.

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A STINT IN THE MILITARY

Minassian joined the Canadian Armed Forces last year, but his stay was brief.

The Department of National Defence says he was a member of the military from Aug. 23 to Oct. 25, but didn't complete his recruit training. He asked to be voluntarily released after 16 days, the department said.

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A BITTERNESS TOWARD WOMEN?

Shortly before Monday's attack on a crowded Toronto street, a chilling post appeared on Minassian's now-deleted Facebook account saluting Elliot Rodger, a community college student who killed six people and wounded 13 in shooting and stabbing attacks near the University of California, Santa Barbara, before apparently shooting himself to death in 2014.

Calling Rodger "the Supreme Gentleman," the Facebook post declared: "The Incel Rebellion has already begun! We will overthrow all the Chads and Stacys!"

The 22-year-old Rodger had used the term "incel" - for involuntarily celibate - in online posts raging at women for rejecting him romantically. Like-minded people in internet forums sometimes use "Chad" and "Stacy" as dismissive slang for men and women with more robust sex lives.

Monday's Facebook post mentions that "Private (Recruit) Minassian" is speaking, and Facebook confirmed that the post was on an account that belonged to the suspect. The social networking site took down his account after the attack, saying in a statement Tuesday, "There is absolutely no place on our platform for people who commit such horrendous acts."

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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