Officer who arrested Toronto van attack suspect says he's not a hero: deputy chief
Two days after Const. Ken Lam calmly arrested a man accused of intentionally running down pedestrians in Toronto’s north end, the deputy chief of the Toronto Police Service said his friend has achieved his dream: to give back to the community where he was born and raised.
Deputy Chief Peter Yuen told reporters on Wednesday that Lam, 42, joined the force seven years ago after spending 14 years working as an engineer, because he wanted to do more to help the citizens of Toronto.
Yuen said he made clear to Lam when they spoke on Tuesday that, “He realized his dream. He did something for the community.”
Lam and Yuen have a similar background. Both have parents who emigrated from Hong Kong to Canada and ran restaurants. Both switched careers to policing after starting out in engineering.
Yuen says he met Lam about five years ago through the East Asian police officers’ support network, when Lam was selling something for charity. Whether for Cops for Cancer or Special Olympics, Lam is always raising funds, Yuen said.
“His mindset is to help as many people as possible,” according to Yuen.
Yuen said that Lam’s father told him that Lam’s charitable streak goes back to when he was very young, and opted to volunteer with seniors.
“It takes a lot of patience, a lot of discipline to work with seniors,” Yuen said. “You can translate that calmness, that decisiveness, that character into what you saw when he was faced with the suspect.”
The van attack suspect’s arrest was caught on video and widely circulated on social media. In the video, the suspect can be seen pointing a dark object at Lam, and telling the officer: ‘Shoot me in the head.’
Even though he had his gun drawn, Lam made the arrest without firing a single shot.
Yuen said that while he believes Lam’s actions were “remarkable,” he hopes that all Toronto police officers would react similarly to deescalate such a situation.
“Training was the most important component coupled with the fact that we had a competent officer,” Yuen said.
Yuen also stressed that Lam has rejected the “label of hero.”
“He wants to make sure that everyone understands, he was not a hero, he was merely doing a job,” said Yuen.
Yuen said that Lam is “doing fine” and will speak out publicly when he’s ready.
He also said that Lam wants to convey the message that the focus shouldn’t be on him.
“There are a lot of first responders that were there that day that looked after a tragic scene. From our ambulance services, from our paramedics, or even Good Samaritans that saw tragic scenes unfold in front of their eyes, those people should be in our thoughts and our prayers and our minds,” Yuen said.