Police are investigating a murder that killed four people in London, Ontario, as a hate crime, saying the victims were targeted because they were Muslims.
The suspect, 20-year-old Nathaniel Veltman, was detained after a family was hit by a car on Hyde Park Road around 8:40 p.m. Local time on Sunday, the London Police Service said. The group was waiting to cross the road when a man in a black pickup truck jumped on the curb and hit five people, all from the same family.
The truck sped up, passing a red light, Detective Supt. Paul Waite said Monday. Veltman was found about 6 miles away and arrested without incident.
“There is evidence that this was a planned, deliberate act motivated by hatred,”
White said it could be the most people killed in the city’s history at once.
He did not elaborate on the evidence that led investigators to believe it was a potential hate crime. It is not known that Weltman is involved in known hate groups or has a criminal record, White said.
The death of a woman was announced at the scene, and two adults and two children were taken to hospital. A teenager and both adults, a man and a woman, died at the hospital. Authorities did not identify the victims at the request of the family, other than claiming they were between the ages of 15 and 74.
A 9-year-old boy was recovering in hospital.
Veltman is charged with four counts of first-degree murder and one attempted murder, White said. He appeared in court via video conference on Monday afternoon, Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported.
Charges of terrorism are being considered, Waite said. It was unclear whether Veltman had a lawyer.
London Mayor Ed Holder described the attack as an act of mass murder “rooted in unspeakable hatred”.
“We can say that we are not who we are and I know that is true,” Holder said. “But words are not enough. … This act of inexpressible 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, love. “