Killing of Canadian Muslim relatives was hate crime: police
A man accused of killing four members of a Canadian Muslim family after running them over in his pickup truck, targeted them in an attack motivated by hate, police said on Monday.
Police in London, Ontario, citing witnesses, said that 20-year-old Nathaniel Veltman, jumped the curb in his vehicle on Sunday, struck five members of the family, ranging in age from 9 to 74, and then drove off at high speed.
Veltman, a resident of London who was arrested after the incident, has been charged with four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder. He is due back in court on Thursday after being remanded to custody on Monday.
"There is evidence that this was a planned, premeditated act, motivated by hate," Detective Superintendent Paul Waight of the London police department told reporters.
"We believe the victims had been targeted due to their Islamic faith," Waight said.
He added that police found in London - 200 km (120 kilometers) southwest of Toronto - were consulting with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and prosecutors about potentially filing terrorism expenses.
The suspect doesn't have a criminal record, and isn't known to become a person in a hate group, law enforcement said. He was arrested in a mall car parking whole lot without incident while wearing a body-armour-type vest, law enforcement said. There is absolutely no evidence he had any accomplices. It had been not immediately regarded if the suspect had hired a lawyer.
Law enforcement have not yet released the victims' names, however the London No cost Press said that among the dead were Syed Afzaal, 46, his wife, Madiha Salman, 44, and their 15-year-old child, Yumnah Afzaal. Syed Afzaal’s 74-year-old mom, whose name is not yet confirmed, also died. Their 9-year-old boy, Faez Afzaal, can be in the hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries.
The family immigrated from Pakistan about 14 years back, according to media reports.
Eyewitness Paige Martin told reporters a good black truck blasted history her and ran a red light as she was taking walks, and then she came after the scene and found "chaos": "It had been just absolutely like a thing that you never like to see."
The attack was the worst against Canadian Muslims since a man gunned down six members of a Quebec City mosque in 2017. London Mayor Ed Holder explained it was the worst mass murder his town had ever seen.
"We grieve for the spouse and children, three generations of whom are actually deceased," Holder advised reporters. "This was an work of mass murder, perpetrated against Muslims, against Londoners, and rooted in unspeakable hatred."
Canadian Primary Minister Justin Trudeau said found on Twitter that he was "horrified" by the news headlines, adding that "Islamophobia has no place in virtually any of our communities. This hate can be insidious and despicable - and it must give up."
Ontario Premier Doug Ford tweeted that "justice should be served for the horrific take action of hatred that took place."
By late evening in Monday, a steady stream of mourners was seen arriving nearby the scene of the strike, dropping off blooms and telling prayers. One placard reading: "When does it prevent? Enough."
A GoFundMe campaign in support of associates of the victims' spouse and children had already raised almost C$120,000 ($99,000) in one hour.
A vigil has been organized at an area mosque on Tuesday nighttime to remember the victims.
"This is a terrorist assault in Canadian soil, and really should end up being treated as such," said Mustafa Farooq, brain of the National Council of Canadian Muslims.
London, which has about 400,000 residents, has a large Muslim community and Holder said Arabic may be the second-most-spoken vocabulary to English found in the city.
The teenage girl who was simply killed "will be deeply missed by fellow students and staff at Oakridge Secondary Institution," according to a school statement.
One man who described himself as a neighbour within an interview with Global Current information, said he met with the family over holidays.
"He was a family group guy, very much mixed up in community, a regular member of our mosque, an extremely, really great father," the neighbor, who was simply not identified, said of Syed Afzaal.
"He cherished to walk with his family. Almost every evening, they walked."