According to Canadian authorities, four members of a Muslim family were killed in a “premeditated” automobile assault on Sunday.
The attack happened in the city of London, in the province of Ontario. The family’s lone survivor, a nine-year-old kid, is in bad condition at the hospital.
Four charges of murder and one count of attempted murder have been filed against a 20-year-old Canadian male.
The incident was not the first of its kind. In 2017 six people were killed at a mosque in Quebec City.
“It is believed that these victims were targeted because they were Muslim,” Det Supt Paul Waight told a news conference on Monday.
He said police are considering terrorist charges and that the incident is thought to be a hate crime.
Two ladies, aged 74 and 44, a 46-year-old male, and a 15-year-old kid were among the casualties. In compliance with the family’s wishes, they have not been identified. According to authorities, a nine-year-old child was taken to the hospital with critical but non-life-threatening injuries.
Nathanial Veltman, 20, of London, Ontario, was identified as the suspected attacker by police. He was arrested roughly 6 kilometres (4.8 miles) from the murder site at a retail centre.
According to Det Supt Waight, it is unknown if the suspect has a connection to any hate organisations.
“There is no known previous connection between the suspect and the victims,” Det Supt Waight said, adding that the suspect was wearing a vest that appeared to be “like body armour”.
Mr Veltman, according to police, has no prior convictions.
When the black vehicle was observed climbing the curb on Hyde Park Road at approximately 20:40 local time on Sunday, officials said the weather was clear and visibility was excellent.
According to CTV News, one witness had to shield her small daughter’s eyes from the dead.
According to another eyewitness, the situation was “just chaos.”
“There were people everywhere and running,” said Paige Martin. “Citizens were trying to direct the emergency vehicles where to go. There was a lot of pointing and screaming and arm waving.”
According to a 2016 census, London, which is around 200 kilometres (125 miles) south of Toronto, is becoming more diversified. One in every five persons was born outside of Canada, with Arabs being the biggest minority population in the region, followed by South Asians.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford was among those who paid tribute to the victims, tweeting: “Hate and Islamophobia have NO place in Ontario.”
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
The news shocked Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who tweeted that he was “horrified.”
“To the loved ones of those who were terrorised by yesterday’s act of hatred, we are here for you,” he wrote.
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
“This was an act of mass murder, perpetrated against Muslims, against Londoners, and rooted in unspeakable hatred,” said London Mayor Ed Holder.
“This was a mass murder committed on Muslims and Londoners, founded in horrible hate,” London Mayor Ed Holder stated.
Mayor Holder stated in a statement that he was speaking “on behalf of all Londoners” when he declared “our hearts are torn.”
In a statement, Mayor Holder said he was speaking “on behalf of all Londoners when I say our hearts are broken”.
“We grieve for the family, three generations of whom are now deceased.”
The mayor’s statement added that he had ordered flags outside London City Hall to be lowered for three days of mourning.
The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) said in a statement that the attacker should face terrorism charges.
“A man allegedly got in his car, saw a Muslim family walking down the street, and made the decision that they do not deserve to live,” said the organisation’s CEO Mustafa Farooq.
“He did not know them. This is a terrorist attack on Canadian soil, and should be treated as such,” his statement continued.
Nawaz Tahir, a London lawyer and representative of the Muslim community, said during the police news conference: “These were innocent human beings who were killed simply because they were Muslim.”
“We will stand strong against Islamophobia. We will stand strong against terror with faith, with love, and a quest for justice,” he continued.
“Hate will never overshadow the light of love.”