A Canadian man is accused of driving
his car into five members of a Muslim family on Sunday night, killing four of them in what police
believe was a premeditated attack
motivated by Islamophobia
According to Det. Supt. Paul Waight, the family was waiting to cross the street at the intersection when a lone man driving a black pickup jumped the curb and hit them in London
, a city southwest of Toronto, on Monday.
The pickup then sped away in the same direction, ignoring traffic lights, according to Waight, who stated that there was no known connection between the driver and the victims. The detective confirmed that the man they arrested was wearing a vest that resembled body
“There was evidence that this was a planned and premeditated hate attack, and it is believed that these victims were targeted because they were Muslim,” Waight said, adding that police “believe that this was an intentional act” based on information gathered during the ongoing investigation
When emergency crews arrived at the crash
site, the eldest family member was already dead; the other four were rushed to the hospital, but three died from their injuries. A family friend told City News
that the family was part of London's Pakistani
community, and the father was a doctor in the area.
A 74-year-old woman, a 44-year-old woman, a 46-year-old man, and a 15-year-old girl died, according to Williams, with the lone survivor being a 9-year-old boy who remains hospitalized with serious injuries but is expected to survive.
“We understand that this event may cause fear and anxiety in the community, particularly in the Muslim community and any community targeted by hate,” Williams said, adding, “I want to reassure all Londoners that all of us... stand with you and support you, and there is no tolerance in this community for individuals who, motivated by hate, target others with violence.”
The National Council of Canadian Muslims
(NCCM) issued a statement on Monday, saying it was “beyond horrified” by the attack and demanding justice for the family.
“This is a terrorist attack on Canadian soil, and it must be treated as such,” NCCM CEO
Mustafa Farooq said in a statement. “We call on the government to prosecute the attacker to the fullest extent of the law, including considering terrorist charges.”
“Muslims in Canada
have become all too familiar with the violence of Islamophobia, with attacks on Muslim women
in Alberta, the IMO mosque killing, and the Quebec City mosque massacre,” he added. “But this loss of a family, the loss of a child
in our community because of Islamophobia is a sorrow that will run deep for a long time; but let that sorrow be the ground where we stand for justice.”
BREAKING: The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) is outraged and demands justice following a horrific hate-motivated car attack on a Muslim family out for a walk on Sunday evening in London, Ontario. pic.twitter.com/o1wXqjpnRb — NCCM (@nccm) June 7, 2021
Nathaniel Veltman, 20, of London, was arrested and charged with four counts of first-degree murder
and one count of attempted murder; he is due to appear in court on Thursday.
According to Waight, police are currently unaware of whether Veltman is affiliated with any hate group, but they are confident that there is enough evidence to classify the incident as a hate crime
. London police are collaborating with federal authorities on the investigation, with the goal of potentially charging Veltman with terrorism.
“This was an act of mass murder, perpetrated against Muslims, against Londoners, and rooted in unspeakable hatred; the magnitude of such hatred can make one question who we are as a city and who we are as Londoners,” said London Mayor Ed Holder, who said he has met with Muslim community leaders to express his condolences.
“It is up to us, though, all of us, to answer that question, not only through our words but also through our actions. We can say, ‘This isn’t who we are,’ and I know that is true, but words alone are not enough; we must demonstrate, behave, and act on those words.”
According to NCCM, a community vigil will be held on Tuesday evening at the London Muslim Mosque.