In what described as a ‘premeditated incident’ by police officials, a man driving a pickup truck killed four members of a Muslim family in the south of Canada’s Ontario province.
International reports quoting Detective Superintendent Paul Waight of the London police department, said that a 20-year-old suspect wearing a vest “like body armour” fled the site after the incident on Sunday evening and was apprehended at a mall seven kilometres (four miles) from the crossroads in London, Ontario, where it occurred.
“We believe the victims were targeted because of their Islamic faith,” Waight was quoted as saying.
Only a 9 year old kid from a muslim family survived in a hit and run by a teππoπist in Canada.
— Hans Masroor Badvi (@hansbadvi) June 8, 2021
The victims’ names have not been disclosed, but according to London mayor Ed Holder, they include a 74-year-old lady, a 46-year-old man, a 44-year-old woman, and a 15-year-old girl, who together represent three generations of the same family.
Following the attack, a nine-year-old boy was hospitalized and is now recuperating, reports said. Nathaniel Veltman, who has been identified as the culprit, has been charged with four charges of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder.
According to Waight, local authorities are also in contact with federal police and the attorney general about adding “possible terrorism charges.”
The attack elicited strong reactions, recalling the January 2017 mosque massacre in Quebec City and the April 2018 driving rampage in Toronto that murdered ten people. Six men were killed and five others were critically injured when a skinny 27-year-old white supremacist rushed into a Quebec City mosque and fired a spray of gunfire on attendees who were conversing after evening prayers.
I’m horrified by the news from London, Ontario. 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.
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) June 7, 2021
On Twitter, Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, expressed shock over the incident, saying that he was “horrified” by the news and that “Islamophobia has no place in any of our communities. This hate is insidious and despicable – and it must stop.” Doug Ford, the Premier of Ontario, said on Twitter, “justice must be served for the horrific act of hatred that took place.”
Hate and Islamophobia have NO place in Ontario. Justice must be served for the horrific act of hatred that took place in London, Ontario yesterday.
My thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends during this difficult time. These heinous acts of violence must stop.
— Doug Ford (@fordnation) June 7, 2021
A report published in BBC, quoted a witness, Paige Martin, saying that while she was walking, a black truck blew past her and ran a red light, and then she stumbled across the scene and saw “chaos”: “It was just absolutely like something that you never want to see.” By Monday evening, a continuous stream of mourners had arrived near the attack site, leaving flowers and offering prayers. One of the placards read: “When does it stop? Enough.”
On Tuesday night, a vigil will be held at a local mosque to honour the victims. Mustafa Farooq, the head of the National Council of Canadian Muslims, echoed the sentiment: “This is a terrorist attack on Canadian soil, and should be treated as such.”
Another report while quoting the family acquaintance, Zahid Khan, said that the family had come from Pakistan 14 years ago and that they were loyal, decent, and charitable members of the London Muslim Mosque. As he spoke near the catastrophic scene, Khan cried and said, “They were just out for a walk that they would go out for every day.”