Toronto van massacre accused Alek Minassian has been charged with 10 counts of first degree murder and 13 of attempted murder.

Minassian, 25, was wearing a white forensic jumpsuit when he appeared in court.

He spoke his name and agreed that he understood the charges.

He showed no expression, nodding along and speaking abruptly and clearly when he addressed the court.

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Minassian, who does not yet have a lawyer, was ordered to not contact any of his victims.

First degree murder carries a life sentence in Canada.

Police secure an area around a covered body after Monday's attack in Toronto. Photo / AP
Police secure an area around a covered body after Monday's attack in Toronto. Photo / AP

An elderly man sat silently in court with tears running down his face as Minassian appeared.

He was mobbed by a large media pack as he left court.

Asked if he had any message to Toronto, he quietly said: "Sorry".

There is still no indication of a motive for yesterday's attack, which left a 2km path of destruction down one of Toronto's busiest streets.

Vahe Minassian, father of Alek Minassian, is surrounded by members of the media as he leaves court with a police escort in Toronto. Photo / AP
Vahe Minassian, father of Alek Minassian, is surrounded by members of the media as he leaves court with a police escort in Toronto. Photo / AP

Authorities continue to play down any connections to terrorism.

Minassian will reappear in court on May 10.

A bitterness toward women?

Shortly before Monday's attack on a crowded Toronto street, a chilling post appeared on Minassian's now-deleted Facebook account saluting Elliot Rodger, a community college student who killed six people and wounded 13 in shooting and stabbing attacks near the University of California, Santa Barbara, before apparently shooting himself to death in 2014.

Calling Rodger "the Supreme Gentleman", the Facebook post declared: "The Incel Rebellion has already begun! We will overthrow all the Chads and Stacys!"

The 22-year-old Rodger had used the term "incel" — for involuntarily celibate — in online posts raging at women for rejecting him romantically. Like-minded people in internet forums sometimes use "Chad" and "Stacy" as dismissive slang for men and women with more robust sex lives.

Monday's Facebook post mentions that "Private (Recruit) Minassian" is speaking, and Facebook confirmed the post was on an account that belonged to the suspect. The social networking site took down his account after the attack, saying in a statement: "There is absolutely no place on our platform for people who commit such horrendous acts."

Minassian lived with his family in the Toronto suburb of Richmond Hill, on a street of sizeable, well-tended brick homes. Police say he had no criminal record before Monday.

His father, Vahe Minassian, wept and seemed stunned as he watched as his son, showing little emotion, make a brief court appearance today.

A 'socially awkward' student

Minassian attended Seneca College, according to his LinkedIn profile; although a spokeswoman for the Toronto-area school didn't immediately respond to an inquiry about him.

Another student, Joseph Pham, told the Toronto Star that Minassian was in a computer programming class with him just last week.

Pham described Minassian as a "socially awkward" student who kept to himself: "He didn't really talk to anyone."

Before college, Minassian attended Thornlea Secondary School in Richmond Hill, graduating in 2011. A Thornlea classmate, Ari Blaff, told CBC News he recalls Minassian was "sort of in the background", not the centre of any particular group of friends.

"He wasn't overly social," Blaff told the news broadcaster.

Thornlea and Seneca declined to discuss Minassian.

A stint in the military

Minassian joined the Canadian Armed Forces last year, but his stay was brief. The Department of National Defence says he was a member of the military from August 23 to October 25, but didn't complete his recruit training. He asked to be voluntarily released after 16 days, the department said.

— with AP