Officials said Monday that a driver intentionally mounted the curb and struck a family of five waiting at an intersection in the Canadian city of London, killing four people because of their Islamic faith.
“There is evidence that this was a planned, premeditated act, motivated by hate. It is believed that these victims were targeted because they were Muslim,” said Detective Superintendent Paul Waight of the London Police. “There is no known previous connection between the suspect and the victims.”
A 74-year-old woman was pronounced dead at the scene Sunday night, and paramedics transported the other four family members — a 46-year-old man, a 44-year-old woman, a 15-year-old girl, and a nine-year-old boy — to the hospital.
According to police, the two adults and the teen died at the hospital. They said the boy is still recovering in a serious but not life-threatening condition, and that family members of the victims have asked that their names not be released at this time.
According to Waight, the family was waiting at the intersection when they were struck by a black pickup truck driven by Nathaniel Veltman, 20.
Veltman was eventually apprehended in a mall parking lot, where police were able to place him under arrest, according to police.
Four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder have been filed against Veltman.
According to Waight, the London Police Department is also collaborating with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police on possible terrorism charges against Veltman. It’s unclear whether Veltman has retained legal counsel.
“We understand that this event may cause fear and anxiety in the community, and in particular the Muslim community, in any community targeted by hate. I want to reassure all Londoners that all of us on the call today and many others stand with you and support you,” London Police Chief Steve Williams said. “There is no tolerance in this community for individuals who, motivated by hate, target others with violence.”
With a population of around 385,000 people, London is a city in southwestern Ontario.
The attack shocked Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who issued a statement.
“To the loved ones of those who were terrorized by yesterday’s act of hatred, we are here for you. We are also here for the child who remains in hospital — our hearts go out to you, and you will be in our thoughts as you recover,” Trudeau said.
“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 added.