A line of police officers look for evidence at the scene of a car crash in London, Ontario on Monday, June 7, 2021. Police in London, Ont., say four people have died after several pedestrians were struck by a car Sunday night. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Robins

A line of police officers look for evidence at the scene of a car crash in London, Ontario on Monday, June 7, 2021. Police in London, Ont., say four people have died after several pedestrians were struck by a car Sunday night. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Robins

‘Dark day’: Police say five pedestrians run down in London, Ont., targeted as Muslims

One man has been arrested in connection to the crash

A family of five Muslims out for an evening early summer stroll were mowed down by a driver in an “act of mass murder,” the mayor of London, Ont., said on Monday.

The horrific incident on Sunday evening left four of them dead and a boy with serious injuries, police said.

“Words fail on a day as dark as this but words matter,” Mayor Ed Holder said. “This was an act of mass murder perpetrated against Muslims, against Londoners, and rooted in unspeakable hatred.”

A 20-year-old city man was arrested in the parking lot of a mall seven kilometres away. He now faces four counts of first-degree murder and one of attempted murder, police said.

Police Chief Steve Williams said relatives had asked no names be released but identified the four victims as a 74-year-old woman, a 46-year-old man, a 44-year-old woman and a 15-year-old girl. A nine-year-old boy was in hospital in serious condition.

“We believe that this was an intentional act and that the victims of this horrific incident were targeted … because of their Islamic faith,” Williams said. “All of the victims in this matter are members of the same family.”

Det. Supt. Paul Waight said the family was waiting to cross the road at an intersection on a dry clear day in the city’s northwest end when a black pickup mounted the curb, struck them, then sped off.

Police identified the accused as Nathaniel Veltman.

One woman who witnessed the aftermath of the deadly crash said she couldn’t stop thinking about the victims. Paige Martin said she was stopped at a red light around 8:30 p.m. when the large, pickup flew past her. She said her car shook from the force.

“I was shaken up, thinking it was an erratic driver,” Martin said.

Minutes later, she came upon a gruesome scene at an intersection near her home: First responders in full sprint, a police officer performing chest compressions on one person and three others down on the ground.

A few dozen people were on the sidewalk, and several drivers got out of their cars to help.

“I can’t get the sound of the screams out of my head,” Martin said.

From her apartment, Martin said she could see the scene, watching an official drape a sheet over a body at about midnight.

Police said one woman died at the scene. The second woman, the man and the teen died in hospital. The child was expected to survive. Autopsies were scheduled for Tuesday.

Zahid Khan, a family friend, said the three generations of victims comprised the grandmother, father, mother and teenage daughter. The family had immigrated from Pakistan 14 years ago and were dedicated, decent and generous members of the London Muslim Mosque, he said.

“They were just out for their walk that they would go out for everyday,” Khan said through tears near the site of the crash. “I just wanted to see.”

Qazi Khalil said he saw the family last Thursday when they were out for their nightly walk. The families lived close to each other and would get together on holidays, he said.

“This has totally destroyed me from the inside,” Khalil said. “I can’t really come to the terms they were no longer here.”

The National Council of Canadian Muslims said it was beyond horrified, saying Muslims in Canada have become all too familiar with the violence of Islamophobia.

“This is a terrorist attack on Canadian soil, and should be treated as such,” said council head Mustafa Farooq. “We call on the government to prosecute the attacker to the fullest extent of the law, including considering terrorist charges.”

Williams acknowledged the tragedy might stoke fear and anxiety, especially among Muslims or others targeted by hate.

“There is no tolerance in this community for individuals who, motivated by hate, target others with violence,” Williams said.

About a dozen police officers searched the crash scene on Monday as they combed the area looking for evidence.

Blue markers on the ground dotted the intersection and officers were performing line searches for several hundred metres in the field next to the sidewalk.

Police were asking anyone with possible information about the incident to contact them.

Holder said flags would be lowered for three days.

Liam Casey, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Ontario

Just Posted

Surrey council chambers. (File photo)
Surrey council endorses ‘public engagement’ strategy

Council approves ‘Public Engagement Strategy and Toolkit,’ and a ‘Big Vision, Bold Moves’ transportation public engagement plan

Surrey City Hall. (File photo)
Surrey council approves $7.3 million contract for street paving projects

City council awarded Lafarge Canada Inc. $7,326,667.95 for 15 road projects in North Surrey and one in South Surrey

Surrey city Councillor Brenda Locke. (File photo)
Locke seeks breakdown on what Surreyites get for taxes paid to Metro Vancouver

Surrey councillor aims to present motion to council tonight (Monday, June 14) asking city staff to do a cost/benefit analysis

TEASER PHOTO ONLY
SURREY NOW & THEN: Little Theatre’s 59-year history ends with big plans for move to Langley

A former church, the theatre building/property has sold for close to $900,000

The City of White Rock wants input from residents and businesses on parking practices and regulations in the city. (File photo)
Input sought for White Rock parking survey

City to develop new strategy based on data and best practices

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

Robert Nelson, 35, died after being stabbed at a homeless camp in Abbotsford on April 7 of this year.
Mom pleads for information about son’s killing at Abbotsford homeless camp

Robert Nelson, 35, described as ‘man who stood for justice, honour, respect’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

Police arrest the suspect in an attempted armed bank robbery on June 2 at the Scotiabank at Gladwin Road and South Fraser Way in Abbotsford. (Photo by Garry Amyot)
Abbotsford bank robbery suspect who was stopped by customers faces more charges

Neil Simpson now faces total of eight charges, up from the initial two

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. watching U.K.’s COVID struggles but don’t think province will see similar pitfalls

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

Most Read