On Monday, 10 people were killed when a white rental van slammed into pedestrians on a busy Toronto thoroughfare. It was one of the deadliest mass killings in Canadian history.
At a news conference the following day, officials in Toronto said that the victims of the attack were “predominantly female.” Their ages ranged from the mid-20s to the 80s, and their injuries from scrapes and bruises to more “terrible” injuries, according to Dirk Huyer, Ontario’s chief coroner.
Authorities say that they will not release the names of victims until they have identified all of them — a process that could take several days.
But portraits of some of the dead began to emerge Wednesday as friends and family members shared stories about the lives cut short in an attack whose motives remain unclear.
A single mother from Sri Lanka, Renuka Amarasinghe worked at a number of Toronto schools as a nutrition services staff member, said John Malloy, the director of education for the Toronto District School Board.
Earl Haig Secondary School, where Malloy said Amarasinghe had just completed her first day of work, is a short distance from where Monday’s attack took place.
Amarasinghe’s son is 7 years old, and he is now being cared for by his mother’s friends. More than $184,000 has been raised on GoFundMe to support the child.
Amarasinghe was also a member of the Mahavihara Buddhist Meditation Centre, according to the Toronto Star. Ahangama Rathanasiri Thero, the president and chief monk at the temple, told the Star that it is unlikely that her body will be repatriated to Sri Lanka, where she has family.
Dorothy Sewell, 80, loved the Toronto Blue Jays. Her death was confirmed by her grandson, Elwood Delaney, in a public Facebook post.
“You will always be loved and your love of sports will always be with me while I cheer with you,” Delaney wrote in a post that also had words for Alek Minassian, the man arrested and charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder in connection with the attack.
“Thanks to you I had to tell my 3 children and my wife that cause of you they will no longer get to talk to Nan” on their birthdays or Christmas, Delaney wrote.
Anne Marie D’Amico, 30, worked at the Canadian headquarters of the investment management firm Invesco, which has its headquarters on the street where the attack unfolded.
Friends and family members described her as big-hearted, kind and altruistic. “She wouldn’t stop until she went the extra miles for others,” her family said in a statement. “It comforts us knowing that the world has a chance to know her and we hope that in this time, people fight with the same altruism rather than anger and hatred.”
D’Amico also volunteered with Live Different, a Canadian charity, and took part in two humanitarian trips to Puerta Plata in the Dominican Republic, where she helped build homes for those in need.
A Facebook post connected to Minassian’s account referenced the incel community, a misogynistic online subculture for “involuntarily celibate” men. The post went up just minutes before the attack, according to police. It also praised Elliot Rodger, the man who carried out a mass killing in Santa Barbara, Calif., in 2014.
But police declined to say whether they were investigating the Facebook post and whether they considered it a clue to a motive. They also would not say whether the female victims of the attack were deliberately targeted.