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Toronto van attack accused searching for job, about to graduate college

Last Updated Apr 26, 2018 at 4:00 pm PST

Alek Minassian is shown in a photo from his LinkedIn page. Minassian was a month away from completing his degree at Toronto's Seneca College when he reached out to an information technology recruitment firm in search of employment. "The semester ends end of April so I will be available at that time or early May," he wrote in an email dated March 21. The man now accused in a van attack that left ten people dead in Toronto seemed "intelligent" and "an articulate guy" with "no issues with written communication," the recruiter said. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO

TORONTO – Alek Minassian was a month away from completing his degree at Toronto’s Seneca College when he reached out to an information technology recruitment firm looking for a job.

“The semester ends end of April so I will be available at that time or early May,” he wrote in an email dated March 21.

The recruiter, who asked not to be identified, said Minassian seemed to be an “intelligent” and “articulate guy” with “no issues with written communication.”

On April 23, police allege, Minassian rented a cargo van, posted a cryptic message on Facebook, and moments later drove down Yonge Street on a killing rampage. Ten people died and 14 were injured.

Minassian’s alleged Facebook post alludes to a misogynistic group of men online who hate women because they cannot have sex with them. Police have said their investigation is taking the post into account.

To the recruiter, Minassian presented his best self.

“I had a couple of credits left to complete my degree but I took a pause from school and worked for a while to get some experience, but this semester I went back to school to complete my degree,” Minassian wrote.

Along with the email to the firm, Minassian, 25, from Richmond Hill, Ont., attached an updated resume, two different versions of which were obtained by The Canadian Press, hoping a job popped up that matched his skills.

According to his resume, Minassian is a software developer who worked at several jobs and on a variety of projects while at school, including building apps.

While at Seneca College, he worked part time from November 2015 to March 2016 with Naprico Inc., run by entrepreneur Vigen Nazarian.

Nazarian said Minassian worked with him for about “four to six weeks.” He said most of his interactions with Minassian were online, although they met up once to talk about the project they were working on — a wine shopping app.

“There’s really nothing that stood out as special,” Nazarian said. “He was courteous, respectful and he did manage to deliver the project on time.”

He said Minassian was akin to many computer scientists, a “digit head.”

“They tend to be very focused on what they do.”

Nazarian said he agreed to be Minassian’s work reference after their time working together.

“He was punctual, on time, did everything he was supposed to,” Nazarian said. “That’s fantastic and what you want to show as a student.”

The wine app, Nazarian said, is still in development, put on the backburner because there have been higher priorities in the last few years.

“I’m devastated by the news. I just can’t believe it. For two days I’ve been asking myself, but who would have known?” Nazarian said. “Sometimes you talk to a lot of people, deal with people and feel something that’s not right. I could not in a million years said this was the (alleged) guy.”

From May to October 2016, Minassian worked in the IT department at Toogood Financial Systems in Richmond Hill. The company said Minassian worked there for six months in 2016 as a quality assurance developer, but wouldn’t get into details of his time there.

OMERS, a large pension plan company, said Minassian worked there as a summer student in 2015, but wouldn’t publicly discuss current or former employees.

During the academic year in 2013 and 2014, Minassian said he worked for Seneca College, working on an Android app used to connect medical devices, like a blood pressure monitor, through Bluetooth technology.

While at school, Minassian developed an Android app called Toronto Green Parking Advisor “that allows users to search for parking locations in Toronto near a given address,” Minassian wrote. The app was still available in the Google Play store on Monday, but the Seneca-linked app has since vanished.

Seneca did not respond to requests for comment about Minassian.

During the summer of 2010, Minassian, then 17, said he worked in the accounts payable department at Compugen, an IT service provider, where his mother currently works.

Minassian said he “sorted and filed invoices, shredded documents” and “photocopied documents and filed them appropriately.”

Don Anderson, a company spokesman, said Minassian was never employed with Compugen, but may have worked there as a co-op student, although they have no records of it.

Minassian’s mother “is a valued member of the Compugen family and is currently on leave,” Anderson said.

Minassian’s most recent work experience on his resume says he worked at Vestige Web Inc., in Oakville, Ont., from Nov. 2016 to Dec. 2017, but the company’s lone director couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

During high school, Minassian said he volunteered as a tree planter and at a food bank.

Minassian has been charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder and 13 counts of attempted murder, with police saying they expected to soon lay a 14th count.