Home Crime Toronto van killer lied about communicating with mass murderers

Toronto van killer lied about communicating with mass murderers

by Matthew Best

Evidence came to light as defence expert cross examined by Crown prosecutor

Police interview released in 2019 showing Alek Minassian in an hours-long interview with Detective Rob Thomas.
(Toronto Police Service)

Alek Minassian never had contact with mass murderers Elliot Rodger or Chris Harper-Mercer, court heard today. The evidence came to light as Crown attorney John Rinaldi cross-examined Dr. Rebecca Chauhan, the defence witness who assessed Minassian’s autism at the request of Dr. John Bradford, the forensic psychiatrist assigned to the case.

Chauhan’s assessment of Minassian stated he’d been “indoctrinated” by Rodger’s 107,000-word manifesto, though she later walked back this wording, saying she should have used a different word. Rinaldi was questioning Chauhan on what information might have altered her assessment of Minassian when he presented the court with Bradford’s notes and whether those notes would have changed her position that Minassian was “hyper focused” on Rodger.

“(Minassian) denies that he has ever been in contact with Elliot Rodger or Harper-Mercer,” Bradford wrote in his notes. “He admits going to the (incel websites) but never posting anything. He implies that he made this up as he was not expecting to be arrested. He thought the incident would end by suicide-by-cop.”

Chauhan said she would have to “grapple” with that information, and Minassian’s statements to her that he was reading Rodger’s manifesto daily.

 “Both can be true,” she said. “I would have to probe that further.”

The claim that Minassian communicated with these mass murderers was already suspect given that the timelines of known events conflicted. For example, Minassian claimed as early as his arrest interview with Det. Rob Thomas of the Toronto Police Service that he logged onto 4chan for the first time on May 23, 2014, the day of Rodger’s killing spree in Isla Vista, Calif. that ended with him taking his own life. Given that Rodger carefully guarded his planned murder against discovery until the day of his attack, it was highly unlikely he would have communicated with Minassian prior to carrying it out.

Bradford’s notes also reveal that Minassian altered his claimed motivation for the attack. Before running down 26 people with the rented van, killing 10, Minassian posted on Facebook that it was a “beta uprising.” He also told Thomas in the interview about his incel motivations. 

According to Bradford’s notes, Minassian maintained that “his principal motivation is the fear of failing at his job which he was due to start about seven days after the incident.” Minassian didn’t mind being labeled an “incel” if it meant that people wouldn’t know his motivation was extreme anxiety, Bradford wrote in his notes.

These notes contrasted with Chauhan’s testimony and a later report produced by Bradford. Boris Bytensky, for the defence, presented Bradford’s report when he questioned Chauhan again on redirect.

Bradford’s report reads in part: “Subsequently in my interviews with Mr. Minassian, he continued to maintain the same motivation that he gave to Det. Thomas. Other than correcting his direct contact with Rodger and Harper-Mercer prior to their deaths, he did maintain the influence of the incel movement. … He clearly was strongly influenced by the Elliot Rodger manifesto. He also continued to show a lack of empathy for the victims and victims’ families … Mr. Minassian has continued to believe that his actions were justified and continued to believe in the incel movement. In fact, he’s added to his statement to Det. Thomas that he was seeking notoriety and infamy.”

Bytensky asked if that was consistent with her own assessment of Minassian being influenced by mass murderers. Chauhan said it was.

Bradford is expected to be called as a witness as the trial continues Monday.

This article may have been created with the use of AI software such as Google Docs, Grammarly, and/or Otter.ai for transcription.

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