Four members of a Canadian Muslim family who were killed on Sunday when a pickup truck jumped the curb and ran them over were deliberately targeted in an anti-Islamic hate crime, Canadian police said on Monday.
“There is evidence that this was a planned, pre-meditated act, motivated by hate,” London Detective Superintendent Paul Waight told reporters, providing no further details.
“It is believed that these victims were targeted because they were Muslim,” Waight said.
Police arrested the suspected attacker, 20-year-old Nathaniel Veltman, on Sunday. He was described as a resident of London, Ontario. He has been charged with four counts of first degree murder, and one count of attempted murder.
Police said that the family has requested that the names of the victims not be released yet, but they did provide their ages.
A 74-year woman died on the scene, a 46-year-old male, a 44-year-old female and a 15-year-old female died after being taken to the hospital, police said. A nine-year-old boy survived and is in the hospital with serious injuries.
“We grieve for the family, three generations of whom are now deceased,” London’s Mayor Ed Holder told reporters at a virtual press conference held jointly with police. “This was an act of mass murder, perpetrated against Muslims, against Londoners, and rooted in unspeakable hatred.”
Waight said police in London, about 200 km (120 miles) southwest of Toronto, were liaising with the Royal Mounted Canadian Police on potentially filing terrorism charges.
The attack was the worst against Canadian Muslims since a man gunned down six members of a Quebec City mosque in 2017.