Toronto Police's flub on van suspect's name sparks frenzy around the wrong man

A rented van sits on a sidewalk about a mile from where several pedestrians were injured in northern Toronto, Canada, 23 April 2018. Eight to ten people were struck in two locations. Police took the driver into custody. EPA/WARREN TODA

In the midst of the tragic incident at the Yonge and Finch area of Toronto, a man with a similar name to the suspect was hounded by the media.

“I appreciate your concern. That isn’t me, and my family has no relation to him,” Alex Minassian, who had been confused with alleged Toronto van attack suspect Alek Minassian, told Yahoo Canada News.

The confusion began when Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders incorrectly said that the first name of the suspect was “Alex” instead of “Alek.”

Alex Minassian took to Twitter and Facebook to identifying the mistake after being “harassed” by media outlets. Friends and family members of Alex Minassian were also contacted for comments about his involvements (or lack of involvement) in the incident.

“Some news agencies only reached out to my friends on [Facebook], sending them messages that I was the suspect without fact checking,” Alex Minassian said. “Probably 25-30 different news agencies have reached out, both positive and negative.”

Toronto Police later posted the correct spelling of the suspect’s name.