Officer who arrested van attack suspect rejects hero label, deputy chief says
Const. Ken Lam has received widespread praise for non-violent arrest
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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.
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."