4 of a Pakistan-origin Muslim Family Killed In Islamophobic Attack In Canada
A man driving a pickup truck hit four members of a Muslim family who died in the south of Canada's Ontario province, as per police statement on Monday was a “planned” attack.
According to Detective Superintendent Paul Waight, a 20-year-old suspect wearing a vest “like body armor” escaped from the scene after the attack on Sunday evening, but was arrested later at a mall seven kilometres from the site where it happened at the intersection in London, Ontario.
“There is evidence that this was a planned act, driven by hate. It is believed that the reason behind the killings of these victims is being Muslim,” he informed a news conference.
Although the names of the victims were not released, they include two women of ages 74 and 44, a 46-year-old man, and a 15-year-old girl representing three generations of the same family, as per London Mayor Ed Holder.
A nine-year-old boy was also injured and hospitalized after the attack and is recovering.
“It is very clear that this was an act of mass murder committed against Muslims, against Londoners, an unspeakable hatred,” stated Holder.
According to Holder, flags would be lowered for three days in London, which as he said has around 30,000 to 40,000 Muslims among its over 400,000 residents.
The suspect, identified as Nathaniel Veltman, and London resident has been charged with four counts of first-degree murder along with one count of attempted murder. As per the police, he did not know the victims.
Waight stated that local authorities are also contacting federal police and the attorney general regarding including “possible terrorism charges”.
He told about few details of the investigation but said that the suspect's social media postings were reviewed by police.
According to Waight, police did not have the idea at this point if the suspect belonged to any specific hate group and refused to provide detailed evidence pointing to a possible hate crime, but stated that it was planned.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wrote on Twitter that he was “horrified” by the attack.
“To the loved ones of those who were victims of yesterday's act of hatred, we are here for you,” he said, highlighting the nine-year-old boy in the hospital.
“To the Muslim community in London as well as all Muslims across Canada, we stand with you. Islamophobia cannot be part of any of our communities. This hate is insidious and must be stopped,” he added.