Officer who arrested van attack suspect rejects hero label, deputy chief says

Toronto police Deputy Chief Peter Yuen says the police officer who apprehended the suspect in Monday's deadly van attack doesn't want to be considered a hero.

Const. Ken Lam has received widespread praise for non-violent arrest

Toronto police Const. Ken Lam, far right, confronts the suspect, far left, in Monday's attack near Yonge Street and Sheppard Avenue West on Monday afternoon, in an image made from video recorded by a passerby. (Clark Hua Zhang)

Toronto police Deputy Chief Peter Yuen says the police officer who apprehended the suspect in Monday's deadly van attack doesn't want to be considered a hero.

Const. Ken Lam received widespread praise for his non-violent arrest of a suspect who claimed he had a gun.

Lam, seen here in an undated photo, has been drawing praise for his non-violent arrest of the suspect in Monday's van attack. (Sing Tao Daily)

Yuen said Lam didn't want the focus to be on him, but on the other first responders, Good Samaritans and witnesses who were at the scene on Yonge Street in north Toronto.

"He wants to make sure everyone understands he was not a hero. He was merely doing a job," Yuen said. "The hero status, he doesn't want it, but he's very appreciative [of it]." 

The deputy police chief said Lam was unable to speak to the media, as he would be required to attend court and anything he could say to the media could be used as evidence.

Lam is also undergoing a debriefing process and after-care program for officers who have faced traumatic situations on the job.

Deputy Chief Peter Yuen says Lam doesn't want the focus to be on him, but on the others who were on scene at the time of Monday's van attack. (CBC)

Lam was working as a traffic response officer when he went to the scene and arrested 25-year-old Alek Minassian of Richmond Hill, Ont. Yuen said Lam was "not assigned to that call."

The officer is doing well, Yuen said, but is still asking questions about the tense arrest on Monday.

"Right now he's still asking me, asking his colleagues, 'Did I make the right decision? What if I opened fire that day? What would happen to me?' These are things [that are still] going through his mind," Yuen said.

Yuen has been in close contact with Lam and said that the two had similar backgrounds, with parents who migrated to Canada from Hong Kong and fathers who opened restaurants.

The deputy police chief said he could also relate to going through a traumatic experience at work.

"These things stay in your mind frame by frame, and he was telling me the exact same things I went through 30 years ago," he said.

Yuen didn't go into details about his own experience, choosing to focus on Lam instead, who he said gave up his long-time career as an engineer to help the community.

Tense confrontation

Video of the arrest shows Lam arriving to confront a man who was standing next to the open driver's side door of the white van that had just mowed down pedestrians along a stretch of one of Toronto's busiest roads.

In the video, that man is then seen with his arm outstretched, pointing a black object at the officer.

Lam does not fire, but instead holsters his gun and takes out a baton as he strides toward the man, who tosses aside the object in his hand and lies down on the sidewalk, where the officer handcuffs him.​
The non-violent arrest of the Toronto van attack suspect is being praised by many. Video taken by witnesses shows the suspect apparently pulling a gun when confronted by a lone police officer. The officer is seen to get the suspect to stand down, drop what he's holding, and make the arrest without incident. 5:07

The incident was over in 37 seconds. 

Ten people were killed in the van attack and another 14 people were injured.

Minassian is the lone suspect in the attack. He was charged Tuesday with 10 counts of first-degree murder and 13 counts of attempted murder. 

Other 1st responders speak out

Bill Perivolaris, a special constable with the Toronto Transit Commission, was one of the first on scene of Monday's van attack. He said he received a call for a red alarm, a silent alarm that indicates a serious incident on a bus, at Finch and Yonge just before 1:30 p.m.

Perivolaris said he could hear yelling and screaming on the bus, and after seeing the carnage on the streets he and his partner immediately began to help the first responders on scene. 
TTC special constable Bill Perivolaris was one of the first on scene of Monday's van attack. (CBC)

"I positioned my car in a position where it would block off the traffic and assist in a little bit of safety for first responders," he told CBC Toronto. "My partner got out of the car and tended to a female that was seriously injured on the corner. I believe she might have been one of the first to be impacted by the van."

Perivolaris noticed one of the officers was doing CPR and asked if he needed help. The officer said there were many more who were injured.

"I just started feeling for vital signs on people along the fenceline there by the patio; unfortunately there was none. We kept moving down the street," he said. "I noticed that the carnage was all the way down. I couldn't see the end of it, and I knew that this was even larger than I had anticipated." 

Perivolaris said he would like to thank other first responders, citizens who assisted him and the shopkeepers who brought food and water.

"I think that this tragedy will change our city for the better. I've noticed a kindness and the efforts of all the people," he said. "I just think we're going to grow stronger for this. This is a wonderful city. We have wonderful people here."