Suspect in Toronto van attack charged with 10 counts of murder, 13 counts of attempted murder

BREAKING UPDATE: The man arrested in connection with a deadly van attack in North York on Monday afternoon has been charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder and 13 counts of attempted murder.

He has been remanded into custody and is set to return to court on May 10.

The suspect, identified by police as 25-year-old Richmond Hill resident Alek Minassian, was arrested after a van plowed into pedestrians along a busy stretch of Yonge Street, killing 10 and injuring 15 others.

Sources told CTV News Monday that Minassian was not known to police prior to the incident and a Linkedin profile under his name states he graduated from Seneca College earlier this year.

On Monday afternoon, several witnesses reported seeing a white Ryder rental van driving along the sidewalk in the area of Yonge Street and Finch Avenue, striking pedestrians in its path.

Early images of the scene showed pools of blood on the sidewalk and multiple people wounded on the ground.

A driver who said he was behind the van as the incident was unfolding said he eventually started honking to warn pedestrians.

“At the beginning I thought I want to make him stop because I’m literally about 20, 30 metres behind him but he is not stopping and he is driving faster on the sidewalks and I am on the road,” he told CP24.

He said he then decided to continue to follow the vehicle and honk to warn people on the street about the danger.

Witness videos sent to CP24 show a dramatic takedown of the suspect on the sidewalk on Poyntz Avenue.

The videos show a man exiting a badly damaged white rental van as an officer points a firearm at the suspect.

A source confirmed to CP24’s crime specialist Steve Ryan that prior to the arrest, the man asked police officers to shoot him.

He was eventually brought to the ground and taken into custody.

Police have said that they believe the incident appears to be “deliberate.”

Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders told reporters Monday night that police are exploring “all lanes” in their investigation and are trying to determine exactly what the van driver’s motivation was in the deadly attack.

One victim identified

One of the ten victims of the fatal attack has been identified as Invesco employee Anne Marie D’Amico, a source confirmed to CP24.

Police have not released the ages or genders of the other nine victims.

Flowers and messages of condolence could be seen at a growing memorial that has been set up in Olive Square, near Yonge Street and Finch Avenue, in honour of those impacted by the tragedy.

A GoFundMe page has also been set up for the victims.

The section of Yonge Street where the pedestrians were hit remains closed today as police continue their investigation.

Transit has also been impacted due to closures in the area.

Due to the police investigation, the Toronto District School Board said the TDSB Education Centre, located near Yonge Street and Sheppard Aveneue, will be closed Tuesday.

‘We will not be broken,’ Tory says

Tuesday’s Toronto city council meeting was postponed until Wednesday, but Mayor John Tory asked councillors to meet at city hall today to express their condolences.

Speaking in council chambers Tuesday, Tory called the situation an “unfathomable loss of life has left our city in mourning.”

“Our hearts are with all of those affected,” he said.

The mayor went on to thank hospital staff as well as first responders and citizens at the scene who exhibited “great bravery” during the ordeal.

“We know that we are strong and resilient and will not be thrown off course by one person or one act,” Tory said.

“The people who call this city home are shaken… but we will not be broken.”

Coun. John Filion, whose ward encompasses the area where the attack took place, recognized the “tremendous emotional toll” the incident has taken on those in the area who rushed in to help in any way they could.

“Hopefully this will have all of us be a little kinder to each other on regular days,” he told his fellow councillors at city hall Tuesday.

Speaking at Parliament Hill on Tuesday morning, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the incident “horrific” and “senseless.”

“On behalf of all Canadians, I offer my deepest, heartfelt condolences to the loved ones of all those who were killed and we wish a full recovery to those injured and stand with the families and friends of the victims,” Trudeau said.

The prime minister added that there is nothing to suggest that there is a national security element to the situation.

Police said another update on the case will be provided this afternoon but a time and location has not yet been determined.

Courtesy of CTV and CP 24 and GMA

TTC walks away from bargaining table with Local 113


Showing disrespect to Toronto transit workers, the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) walked away from the bargaining table after Local 113-Toronto, ON submitted a contract proposal. The Local expressed disappointment with the TTC’s decision to abandon negotiations. The agency says it has applied for conciliation. The Local has invited the TTC to return to the table and bargain in good faith to reach a fair agreement. They also pledged to continue the fight to protect workers’ pensions and benefits, while saving Toronto’s public transit system from privatization, which cost taxpayers more money in the end.

Atlanta paratransit workers call off strike, progress in negotiations

In reaction to a strike threat by Atlanta paratransit workers, MV transportation and Local 732-Atlanta, GA, have made strong progress in contract talks. The Local had called for their second one-day walk-out to protest unsafe buses and dangerous work conditions that are threatening the safety of riders and drivers. “The operators of these buses don’t see our passengers as just passengers; they’re family to us. Just recently, one driver had a wheel fall off his bus, and thankfully, there was no one on his bus at the time,” said Local President Michael Majette. In addition, the Local has challenged the decision to outsource the paratransit service. The two sides hope to reach an agreement soon.

Uber, Lyft and Via sue to block wheelchair-accessibility mandate

Showing their disregard for people with disabilities, Uber, Lyft and Via have banded together to defy a recently passed NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission mandate requiring more of their service be wheelchair accessible. The TNCs filed a petition against the rules, which will require that within 12 months 5% of all trips be in wheelchair accessible vehicles. That will rise to 25% by July 2023. Disability advocates believe the mandate doesn’t go far enough. “We’re grateful the city is trying to push for accessibility, but it’s not enough,” said Ruth Lowenkron, director of the disability justice program at New York Lawyers for the Public Interest. “We think they have their own obligation under the non-discrimination laws to ensure access under non-discrimination laws.”

One year after driver’s death, little change: Winnipeg Local


Marking one year since Local 1505-Winnipeg, MB, member Irvine Jubal Fraser was tragically killed by a passenger on the job, a packed remembrance service was held and buses flashed “In memory of #521” Fraser’s badge numbers as a transit operator. The Local says progress in making transit drivers’ work environment safer has been slow. One driver said he doesn’t feel any safer heading to work now compared to a year ago. “I’ve been threatened myself on the job, but you do what you can. My family is definitely worried for me, scared for me. Every day I go to work and feel like you never know – today could be the day.”

The Dark Side of The Gig Economy


This past Monday morning, livery driver Doug Schifter tragically killed himself in front of NYC City Hall, posting on Facebook that he did this in hopes of raising awareness of how ride hailing services have devastated taxi workers financially. In his post, Schifter said he had to work more than 100 hours a week just to survive, had lost his health insurance, racked up credit card debt and put the blame on mayors Michael Bloomberg and Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo for permitting so many cars to flood the streets of NYC. His story is representative of how Uber, Lyft and their competitors have inflicted serious economic hardship on taxis drivers in NYC and other cities leading to driver bankruptcies, foreclosures, eviction notices, homelessness and depression. It’s time we all recognize that Uber, Lyft and their competitors are exploiting and ruining hardworking people’s lives.

Worcester, MA, Local mobilizes riders in fight for transit funding

With the Worcester Regional Transit Authority rumored to be considering slashing service and jobs in the face of a $1 million budget deficit, Local 22-Worcester, MA, members aren’t sitting silent. The Local is mobilizing riders to join in the fight and formed the Funding for Public Transportation Committee. “I think that this is really the first time that I can remember that we have formed a committee to focus on gathering people together to try and get funding, and the reaction has been incredible,” said Local Business Agent Ken Kephart. “Our focus is to try to rally the people to say enough is enough, and call their elected officials and demand that they fully fund the RTAs.” Demonstrations and other actions are being considered to protest the governor’s budget.

Winnipeg Local calls for a review of flawed electronic fare card system

The City of Winnipeg has cut corners in adding its electronic fare card, Peggo, which is run on an outdated system, says Local 1505-Winnipeg, MB, in calling for a review and audit of Peggo. “Unfortunately, we warned about this quite some time ago … They purchased a system that was outdated,” said Local President Aleem Chaudhary. “These glitches were and are a daily problem.” The Local says riders adding money on the cards online or by phone can be delayed by 24-48 hours, and many riders board buses with a pre-paid card that doesn’t work.

Black History Month: Harriett Tubman, conductor of Underground Railroad

In recognition of Black History Month, ATU is remembering important people and events in the history of the civil rights movement and public transportation. This week we are remembering Harriett Tubman, who escaped slavery and became a leader in the abolitionist movement during the Civil War. Tubman risked her life to lead hundreds of slaves and their family members from the plantation system to freedom on an elaborate secret network of safe houses that is known as the Underground Railroad. In honor of her accomplishments, the U.S Treasury Department recently announced Tubman will be featured on the $20 bill to replace Andrew Jackson.

Nashville Local & Music City Riders United Demand Transit Equity

In recognition of Rosa Parks’ birthday and her fight for transit equity, Local 1235-Nashville, TN, members joined with Music City Riders United to demand better public transit for all. Their demands – better bus safety, improved training of maintenance workers and other improvements – come as residents will soon cast their vote on a new $9 billion transit plan proposed by Nashville’s Mayor. Local President Patrick Green points out the training deficiencies and the lack of personnel leads to bus delays and break downs, which happen every single day. “It’s not about us, It’s not just about the workforce here at this system. It’s about the entire community,” said Green.

Minneapolis hosted the most public transit-dependent game in Super Bowl history

The Super Bowl was a great game this year with the Philadelphia Eagles beating the New England Patriots. It also went off without a hitch thanks in part to Local 1005-Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN, members playing a key role in safely transporting people to and from the game and events in the week before the game. Experts are saying Minneapolis hosted the most public transit-dependent Super Bowl ever because the stadium is located in downtown Minneapolis. The City’s light rail system took more than 20,000 fans to and from the game and the two of the starting points for light rail served as major security screening checkpoints to help alleviate security-related bottlenecks at the stadium.

Remembering Jubal Fraser

A year ago a fella driver was killed on the line of duty first time in Canada History with all due respect and prayers for the family back in those days this is what it was read back on those days:

Transit operator Irvine Fraser, 58, died after stabbing on University of Manitoba campus

While the death might be a first, assaults happen all the time on transit buses, said the AmalgamatedTransit Union (ATU).

Most are the result of a fare dispute, but an alarming number happen just because someone wants to do violence to a bus driver,” ATU international president Larry Hanley said in a statement.

“ATU demands that transit agencies and government officials bring the same sense of regret that they will display in the public mourning of this tragic, unnecessary death of our brother, to the ongoing discussion about preventing these attacks from occurring.”

John Callahan, ATU Local 1505 president in Winnipeg, said he was speechless when he found out about the death early Tuesday morning.

“It’s the scenario we always dreaded and it actually happened,” he said. “It was very sobering to say the least.”

Winnipeg has been taking steps in the right direction to increase driver safety but clearly it is not enough, Callahan said. Drivers face a lot of abuse on the job because “they are frontline … an easy target,” he said.

“This is just a guy doing his job and you should not end up dead at the end of your shift,” he said. “It’s tragic and we need to really have dialogue on things that can be done to protect these working men and women.”

Callahan said he has plans to speak with officials at the city about solutions including shields and other bus redesigns. But he said there’s no doubt in his mind that “we need dedicated transit police.”

Maryland bill would make assaulting a transit operator a felony

Transit worker assault is a growing epidemic across North America. In Maryland, one state legislator is taking action as attacks on DC-area bus operators went up in 2017. Del. Angela M. Angel has proposed a new bill to increase the penalty for attacking a transit operator to a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a $5,000 fine. “House Bill 28 will give the same protections to transit workers that are already extended to law enforcement and emergency responders,” says Local 689-Washington, DC. “We understand that transit worker assaults are not only a danger to the workers, but also to the riding public, who are also placed in harm’s way when these incidents occur.”

Winnipeg Local blames province for proposed transit cuts

Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. Despite the Manitoba government’s own climate change plan calling investments in public transit crucial to lowering greenhouse gas emissions, the Brandon City Council recently voted to cut funding for public transit and the city of Winnipeg may do the same. The city councils call the cutbacks necessary because of a lack of funding from Manitoba Governor Brian Pallister’s administration. And Local 1505-Winnipeg, MB, agrees. “If you’re a student, worker or parent in Brandon who relies on transit, the Pallister government’s cuts are going to make life more difficult,” says Local President Aleem Chaudhary, who called on residents to contact local politicians to voice their concerns on the issue.

AC Transit drivers push for more protection after shooting

Dealing with angry, drunk and even violent riders has become part of the job for most bus drivers, including AC Transit operators in the Bay Area in California. However, when someone recently shot out the back window of a bus, Local 192-Oakland, CA, decided “enough is enough.” The Local, representing some 1,600 drivers and mechanics, is demanding better safety standards through grievance and, possibly, arbitration, as past requests to the transit agency have fallen on deaf ears. Local 192 is one of the more than 140 Locals that have passed the resolution to fix the bus driver workstation to prevent driver blind spot accidents, assaults on bus drivers, exhaust fumes in buses, ergonomically poor bus driver seats, and more.

Connecticut Locals join with allies to demand state address transit funding shortfall

Public transportation in Connecticut is facing a serious funding crisis as the state’s Special Transportation Fund (STF) needs to find $1 billion over the next five years or the state will have to cut public transit and road programs, and raise bus and rail fares. ATU’s Connecticut Locals took action to demand that the state address this problem that is critical to the economic future of the state. Locals 281-New Haven, 425-Hartford, 443-Stamford, 1209-New London, 1336-Bridgeport, 1622-Danbury and 1763-Rocky Hill joined with business, community, and transit allies to meet with ConnDOT Commissioner James Redeker to express their concerns and offer solutions. “We move Connecticut. The proud members of the ATU, who are the eyes and ears of transit in Connecticut on a daily basis, join with our riders and allies in support of increased funding for public transit,” said Local 1209 President Jaroslaw Pizunski.

Denver Local calls for better protection in wake of gunfire


Recently a gunfight broke out near the state capitol in Denver and Regional Transit District (RTD) bus drivers say this is an ongoing dangerous problem that sometimes happens inside the buses including a violent incident where a passenger was shot on a bus in August. In response, Local 1001-Denver, CO, is demanding better protection for bus drivers. “We need more security, it’s just out of control,” said one RTD driver. “We get cussed out all the time. Some people are always fighting, and some get on the bus drunk. We have no protection.” The Local recently passed the Workstation resolution calling on RTD, bus manufacturers, and elected officials to fix the bus driver workstation to improve the safety and health of drivers, riders, pedestrians.

A Local 113-Toronto, ON, bus driver goes above & beyond

Last month Local 113-Toronto, ON, bus driver Domenic Gouveia was driving his regular route when he noticed an older man sitting in a bus shelter. Gouveia realized something wasn’t quite right as the man had only a light coat on despite the cold day. He asked the man where he needed to go and the man replied, “I don’t know.” Domenic invited the man on his bus to get warm and noticed a bruise on his eye and cut on his finger. He drove the man on his route to see if he recognized anything, but the man didn’t. He was about to call transit control when he texted his wife to see if the news said anyone was missing. She told him yes, an older man with dementia was reported missing, and she sent him a photo of the man. Domenic immediately recognized it was that man and called transit control. He then waited with the man until the police arrived to help. ATU salutes for Dominick for his actions.

Cincinnati Local says agency unloading unused bus parts

Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) bus garage workers thought it was strange that the transit agency was asking them to throw away perfectly good bus parts. It turns out it was more than 4,000 parts worth over $800,000. Local 627-Cincinnati, OH, is asking why SORTA is doing this as Metro is facing a $150 million deficit over the next decade and fare increases and service cuts are likely. I was just amazed that this is going on,” said Local President Troy Miller, pointing out that those parts may one day be needed for a fleet with buses upwards of 12 years old. “If our guys don’t have parts, they can’t fix the buses, and if the buses aren’t going out on the road, bottom line, it affects the customer and the taxpayer.”

Milwaukee bus driver helps woman in labor

Local 998-Milwaukee, WI, bus driver Tayetta Currin got quite the Christmas surprise when she was working on Christmas Eve. On her route, Currin noticed a woman walking on a snowy sidewalk who looked like she needed help. She pulled over and the woman told her she was going into labor. As the mother of two young boys, Currin sprang into action helping the woman onto her bus with the help of two passengers “It was shocking. I had to think quick,” Currin said. “I know how it is with contractions. I just told her to stay in the seat because she was sliding off and told her the paramedics were coming right away.” Eventually they did and took the woman to the hospital. This is not the first time Currin has jumped into action. A year ago, a middle-aged woman was shot during a robbery and flagged down Currin’s bus for help.

Stay Warm on The Job in Freezing Cold!

 

ATU members rarely get “snow days.” And so, even though dangerous, freezing temperatures are gripping North America, our members are on the job, safely transporting riders in these hazardous weather conditions.

A preview of the US without pensions

Tom Coomer has retired twice. Each time he realized that his Social Security check wouldn’t cut it. So, at 79, Tom is working full-time at Walmart. The way major U.S. companies provide for retiring workers has been shifting for about three decades, with more dropping traditional pensions every year. The first full generation of workers to retire since this turn of events will soon show workers what they can expect as part of a labor force dependent on their own savings for retirement. Years ago, Coomer worked for airplane maker McDonnell Douglas with a company pension, but in 1994 the company closed the plant. While most of his co-workers found new jobs, they could never replace their lost pension benefits, and many are facing financial struggles: one in seven have filed for bankruptcy, faced liens for delinquent bills, or both, according to public records.

With assaults on bus drivers up, Ottawa Local pushes for protective driver shields

With more than 100 assaults on Ottawa bus drivers in 2017, compared to 87 in 2016, Local 279-Ottawa, ON, is renewing its call for bus driver protective shields. “I am at the point where I just feel it’s unacceptable,” says Local President Clint Crabtree. “People need to be going home to their families without being assaulted at work.” The Ottawa Local is one of the more than 130 Locals that have passed the resolution to call on transit agencies and elected officials to fix the bus driver workstation. The Local has joined other Canadian Locals in lobbying parliament to push for safer bus driver workstations.

Let’s propose this as the new US national anthem

In 1979, the Chrysler Corporation was in financial trouble. High gasoline prices, lagging auto sales, and international competition had led the automaker to the brink of bankruptcy. In response, Congress passed The Chrysler Corporation Loan Guarantee Act of 1979to allow the federal government to guarantee $1.5 billion in loans to Chrysler. It also provided an additional $2 billion in “commitments or concessions,” which could be used by Chrysler for the financing of its operations. Sound familiar? In a 1983 WNYC broadcast, Tom Paxton sang a live version of “I’m Changing My Name to Chrysler,’ a whimsical and biting commentary on the financial troubles of the auto industry and how the government bailed them out. Maybe that should be the new U.S. national anthem with the GOP tax plan rewarding corporate America while working people lose.

Nashville media Is getting played by transit-bashing hired guns

From Albuquerque to Atlanta to Charlotte, the right-wing Cato Institute has a knack for opposing nearly every local debate over transit expansion, arguing against investments in rail and bus service. Now they have their sights set on Nashville, TN, which will vote on a $5.2 billion transit expansion plan in May. And the Nashville media have bought their shtick – hook, line and sinker. However, transit advocates say Mayor Megan Barry’s plan with five light rail lines totaling 26 miles – 25 miles of bus rapid transit, a 1.8-mile transit tunnel to bypass downtown congestion, and system wide bus improvements is solid and plan to fight hard to get it passed.

Win an ATU jacket like Raymond Vandervort, 1145-Binghamton, NY

Want a chance to win a cool ATU jacket like Raymond? It’s easy and will help you stay warm this winter. All you have to do is go to http://www.atu.org/, go to the bottom bar of the homepage and sign up to receive ATU email action alerts on the latest news and developments on ATU, public transportation, politics and other important issues. To enter the drawing, simply provide your e-mail, local number and zip/postal code. If you have already submitted your email you’re still signed up for the contest, simply click “Skip and Continue to Website.”

Twin Cities Local rallies as negotiations continue to avert Super Bowl strike


Members of Local 1005-Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN flooded at Metropolitan Council transportation committee meeting to voice concerns over an ongoing contract dispute. Assaults on bus operators, arduous schedules and employee benefits were among many concerns. While the Local voted to authorize a strike leading up to the Super Bowl in the city in February, contract talks resumed with the agency issuing a final contract offer. “We care about getting a decent and fair contract, and we’re willing to fight to have a fair contract. It just seems a shame that we are not treated like the backbone to this company,” said a Metro Transit operator who attended the rally.

Local 1493 members ratify contract

Despite Roanoke, VA’s Valley Metro facing serious revenue issues due to the city’s budget woes, members of Local 1493-Raleigh, NC, ratified a strong new contract. The 79 bus drivers, nine mechanics and two bus cleaners, who work for Valley Metro-Greater Roanoke Transit Company, will receive a 2.5 percent wage increase retroactive to July, a 2.5 percent wage increase in 2018, and a 2.75 percent wage raise in 2019 under recently approved contract amendments.

ATU Labor leaders confront sexual harassment

As the Harvey Weinstein and other high profile sexual harassment scandals broke in early October, the AFL-CIO opened its national convention in a very different way reading a passage from the code-of-conduct and telling attendees that there are two people designated to field any complaints about sexual harassment. The AFL-CIO pledged to have “a zero-tolerance policy” recognizing the labor movement was founded on the premise to fight for dignity in the workplace and protect workers against exploitation. But even unions haven’t been immune to sexual harassment scandals. At the convention one union leader said, “The AFL-CIO should lead, not follow, when it comes to workplace safety, which means not just reacting but creating an anti-harassment culture.”
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