Four members of a Muslim family of five in Canada were killed after being struck by a pickup truck in what police suspect to be a “planned, premeditated” attack, CBC reports.
The driver, 20-year-old Nathaniel Veltman, has been charged with four counts of murder and one count of attempted murder after he mounted the curb and hit the family as they were waiting to cross an intersection Sunday night in London, Ontario. Veltman could also face terrorism charges. “There is evidence that this was a planned, premeditated act and that the family was targeted because of their Muslim faith,” Detective Superintendent Paul Waight explained at a news conference. Police also said that Veltman was wearing a body-armor-type vest.
The names of the victims have not been released, as per the family’s request. What we do know is that the lives of two women, ages 74 and 44, a 46-year-old man, and a 15-year-old girl were taken by Veltman, who wasn’t believed to be affiliated with any hate groups. A nine-year-old remains in the hospital with serious, but not life-threatening injuries.
“This was an act of mass murder, perpetrated against Muslims — against Londoners — and rooted in unspeakable hatred,” London Mayor Ed Holder said in a statement. “This act of unspeakable hatred, this act of Islamophobia, must be followed by acts of compassion, acts of kindness, acts of empathy, acts of solidarity — justice — and, above all else, love.”
BBC notes that this is the worst attack against Canadian Muslims since 2017 when terrorist Alexandre Bissonnette opened fire inside of a mosque in Quebec City, killing six people and injuring five others. Bissonnette was initially sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for 40 years, however, the length of time before he was eligible for parole was reduced by Quebec’s Court of Appeal last year.