On June 6th, four were killed in in a ‘hate crime’ hit-and-run in London, Ontario, Canada.
Police said the victims were two women aged 77 and 44, a 46-year-old man and a 15-year-old girl. A nine-year-old boy was seriously injured and is recovering in hospital.
A 20-year-old man is accused of the killing, as well as injuring a child in the hit-and-run incident.
Police told the CBC that the fatal crash was a hate crime and that victims were “targeted because of their Islamic faith.”
Nathaniel Veltman, 20, of London, has been charged with four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder, according to the CBC.
Veltman may also face terrorism charges, Detective Superintendent Paul Waight said.
“There is evidence that this was a planned, premeditated act, motivated by hate,” Waight said. “We believe the victims were targeted because of their Islamic faith.”
Authorities said Veltman was charged with first-degree murder because the crime was “pre-planned and premeditated.” Police reportedly gathered a “variety of sources,” including online information to determine the crime was hate-motivated.
London Mayor Ed Holder said the murder was the worst crime of its kind in London’s history.
“This was an act was mass murder, perpetrated against Muslims, against Londoners and rooted in unspeakable hatred,” Holder said. “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.”
Sunday’s attack came amid rising concerns about Islamophobic attacks in provinces across Canada and widespread calls for authorities to tackle racism, hate-motivated violence, and the prevalence of far-right groups.
Eyewitness Paige Martin told reporters a black truck blasted past her and ran a red light, and then she came upon the scene and saw “chaos”. First responders were running to help, a police officer was performing chest compressions on one person, and three other people were lying on the ground.
To the Muslim community in London and to Muslims across the country, know that we stand with you. Islamophobia has no place in any of our communities. This hate is insidious and despicable – and it must stop.
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) June 7, 2021
The National Council of Canadian Muslims, a national advocacy group, said it was “beyond horrified” by the deadly attack.
“This is a terrorist attack on Canadian soil, and should be treated as such. We call on the government to prosecute the attacker to the fullest extent of the law, including considering terrorist charges,” the group’s CEO, Mustafa Farooq, said in a statement.
“This loss of a family, the loss of a child in our community because of Islamophobia – this is a sorrow that will run deep for a long time. But let that sorrow be the ground where we stand for justice, and stand for change.”
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