TORONTO — A driver plowed a pickup truck into a family of five, killing four of them and seriously injuring the other in a deliberate attack that targeted the victims because they were Muslims, Canadian police said Monday.
Authorities said a young man was arrested in the parking lot of a nearby mall after the incident Sunday night in the Ontario city of London. Police said a black pickup truck mounted a curb and struck the victims at an intersection.
“This was an act of mass murder perpetuated against Muslims,” Mayor Ed Holder said. “It was rooted in unspeakable hatred.”
Police said the dead were a 74-year-old woman, a 46-year-old man, a 44-year-old woman and a 15-year-old girl. A 9-year-old boy was reported in serious condition. The family requested the names not be released, officials said.
“In one act of murder some individual has wiped out three generations of family. It’s horrific,” Holder said in an interview with The Associated Press.
Nathaniel Veltman, 20, was in custody facing four counts of first-degree murder. Police said Veltman, a resident of London, did not know the victims.
Detective Supt. Paul Waight said police did not know at this point if the suspect was a member of any specific hate group. He said London police are working with federal police and prosecutors to see about potential terrorism charges. He declined to detail evidence pointing to a possible hate crime, but said the attack was planned.
About a dozen police officers combed the area around the crash site looking for evidence Monday.
“We believe the victims were targeted because of their Islamic faith,” Police Chief Stephen Williams said. “… There is no tolerance in this community who are motivated by hate target others with violence.”
Canada is generally welcoming toward immigrants and all religions, but in 2017 a French Canadian man known for far-right, nationalist views went on a shooting rampage at a Quebec City mosque that killed six people.