Flowers, notes and candles are piled high at a vigil on Yonge Street in Toronto, Tuesday, April 24, 2018. Ten people were killed and 14 were injured in Monday’s deadly attack in which a van struck pedestrians in northern Toronto. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Galit Rodan

Toronto sports fans come together in wake of van attack

Police probe Toronto van attack as details emerge

Details are still emerging about the victims of this week’s deadly van attack in north Toronto, as authorities carry out a painstaking investigation.

Police continue to comb the one-kilometre stretch of Yonge Street where the attack took place on Monday.

The area was mostly reopened to the public Wednesday, and mourners continue to visit a makeshift memorial to the 10 people killed.

RELATED: Toronto van attack suspect faces 10 counts of first-degree murder

Investigators are pleading for witnesses to come forward, saying they need every piece of information they can get.

One potential clue is a Facebook post, allegedly made by the suspect, that praises a previous killing and references involuntary celibacy or “incel.”

Twenty-five-year-old Alek Minassian faces 10 charges of first-degree murder and 13 of attempted murder, with investigators expecting to lay another attempted murder charge soon.

As the city reels from the attack, hundreds of Torontonians braved the rain Wednesday night to cheer on the city’s professional sports teams as they played in pivotal games.

Five Toronto teams were in action with four of them — the Maple Leafs, Raptors, Toronto FC, and Marlies — in playoff games. Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment hosts an outdoor viewing party beside Air Canada Centre for all Leafs and Raptors post-season games. The company stepped up to host a double-sized celebration for those two teams Wednesday, with smaller screens dedicated to TFC and the Marlies.

A moment of silence honouring the victims of Monday’s attack was held both inside and outside the ACC. On the court, Raptors and Washington Wizards players held up Toronto Strong banners as the national anthems were played before tipoff.

PA announcer Herbie Kuhn told the Air Canada Centre crowd that the two teams and the NBA would be donating to the TorontoStrong Fund set up by the city of Toronto. The campaign had raised more than $413,000 of its $550,000 goal as of 5:30 p.m. ET Wednesday.

“Toronto will be forever strong,” said Kuhn, prompting a round of loud applause.

Outside the arena, many fans felt the public celebration was necessary to help heal the city.

RELATED: Toronto van attack accused was briefly in Canadian Armed Forces

“It’s amazing,” said Lucas Stockley, wearing a Leafs jersey on the hockey end of the square. “The fact that we all come together for a night like this, it’s truly inspirational.”

The families shattered by Monday’s attack include a seven-year-old boy now left without a mother, and a son forced to bury the father who travelled overseas to visit him, community members said Wednesday.

While officials did not publicly identify the victims, some who knew them released details of those killed and injured.

The latest victims identified include Renuka Amarasingha, a school board employee who was the sole caregiver for her seven-year-old child. A monk at the temple Amarasingha frequented said she was an active member of Toronto’s Sri Lankan community, and noted that the brutality of her death has left many questioning the safety of the country they now call home.

RELATED: Memorial to victims of Toronto van attack continues to grow

“We think that Canada was a peaceful country, (but) that is a doubt we have if people do these kinds of things,” Ahangama Rathanasiri of the Toronto Maha Vihara Buddhist Meditation Centre said in a telephone interview with The Canadian Press. “This is a very sad incident.”

Other identified victims include Jordanian citizen Munir Alnajjar, who had recently travelled to the city to visit his son; Betty Forsyth, a woman in her 90s who lived in a public housing complex near the site of the attack; Anne Marie D’Amico, an investment company worker with a love of volunteering; and Dorothy Sewell, an 80-year-old grandmother who was passionate about local sports.

Two unidentified Korean nationals and an unnamed student from Seneca College were also killed.

The Canadian Press

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