Family deliberately run down in London: “Targeted because they were Muslims”
What was supposed to be a quiet walk on a hot Sunday in early June ended in tragedy. The drama – which according to the London Police Service was premeditated and motivated by hatred – took place at an intersection in northwest London.
Four pedestrians were killed, all belonging to the same family – a 74-year-old woman was pronounced dead instantly while another 44-year-old woman, a 46-year-old man and a 15-year-old girl died in hospital. A 9-year-old boy is hospitalized with serious injuries but according to police, he is not in danger of life. “We believe this was an intentional act and that the victims of this horrific incident were targeted – London Police Chief Steve Williams said at a press conference yesterday – we believe the victims were targeted because of their Islamic faith.”
Driving the black pickup van was London resident Nathaniel Veltman, 20, who was arrested after a brief escape, outside Cherryhill Mall which is about 6 kilometres from the crash site. The man, who police say did not know his victims, faces multiple counts including four counts of first-degree murder and one counts of attempted murder.
With his vehicle the suspect hit the pedestrians, who had no escape, at the intersection of Hyde Park and South Carriage Road. “This was a mass murder, perpetrated against Muslims, against Londoners and rooted in unspeakable hatred – said city mayor Ed Holder – the extent of such hatred can lead to a question about who we are as a city and who we are as Londoners. It is up to us – all of us – to answer this question not only through words, but also through our actions. My heart is in pieces for the families of the four people who were tragically killed.”
Chief Williams called the incident a “devastating loss” for the community. “We understand that this event can cause fear and anxiety in the community, particularly in the Muslim community and in any hate-targeted community. I want to reassure all Londoners that we are all here to support them,” he said.
Premier Doug Ford condemned the attack on social media, saying that “hatred and Islamophobia have NO place in Ontario.” “Justice must be done for the horrific act of hatred that took place yesterday (Sunday) in London, Ontario. My thoughts and prayers are with their family and friends at this difficult time. These atrocious acts of violence must stop.”
London Police have not released many details as well as the identities of the victims have not been released at the express wish of the family members.
Anyone with information that may be useful to the investigation can contact investigators at 519-661-5670 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-8477.