A 20-year-old Canadian national has been charged with murder and attempted murder after he mowed down a family in Ontario with his pick-up truck on Sunday evening, killing four and injuring a child, in what is being described as a case of Islamophobia. Several leaders including Canadian PM Justin Trudeau have condemned the killings and said hate has no place in the Canadian society.
Nathaniel Veltman drove his vehicle into the Muslim family, who were out for an evening walk in the town of London in the Canadian province. London police said the victims “were all members of the same family” and the deceased included a 74-year-old female, a 46-year-old male, a 44-year-old female, and a 15-year-old female, and a 9-year-old male, who remains in hospital with serious, but non-life-threatening injuries.
Veltman, resident in the same town, was charged with four counts of first degree murder and one count of attempted murder.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was “horrified” with what had occurred. “To the Muslim community in London, and to Muslims across the country, know that we stand with you. Islamophobia has no place in any of our communities. This hate is insidious and despicable – and it must stop,” he said in a tweet.
Opposition leader Erin O’Toole described the killings as “vile and extreme hatred”. “This type of vile and extreme hatred must be condemned. An Islamophobic act of terror like this has no place in Canada.”
Ontario Premier Doug Ford too said that hate and Islamophobia had no place in the province. “Justice must be served for the horrific act of hatred that took place in London, Ontario yesterday. My thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends during this difficult time. These heinous acts of violence must stop,” he added.
A statement released by London police cited investigators to say it was an “intentional” act and that the victims were targeted because of their Islamic faith. “There is evidence that this was a planned, premeditated act, motivated by hate,” it said.
Names of the victims were not released due to a request for privacy from family members.
At approximately 8:40 pm on Sunday, the black pick-up truck being driven by Veltman mounted the sidewalk and hit the victims who were waiting at an intersection near Hyde Park Road. Veltman then sped away from the scene but was apprehended by police about five minutes after the attack.
Offering his condolences to the family, London mayor Ed Holder said in a statement, “I speak on behalf of all Londoners, when I say our hearts are broken. We grieve for the family, three generations of whom are now deceased. We weep for their loved ones. We pray for the recovery of the 9-year-old boy who remains in hospital.” He ordered the flags outside London City Hall to be lowered for three days of mourning.