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

Tuesday’s Lotto Max draw went unclaimed. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Tuesday’s Lotto Max draw went unclaimed. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lotto Max jackpot goes unclaimed again

42 of the 64 Maxmillion prizes of $1 million were won, the majority were sold in Ontario

Rick Ruppenthal of Saltair will host a 12-hour talk-a-thon Friday, June 18 over Facebook live. (Photo submitted)
Talk-a-thon to focus on men’s mental health issues

Saltair man spearheading a campaign to generate more conversation during fundraiser

Julie Nygaard’s By Moonlight Raven Flight is one of the photo-artist works in her show Through My Eyes – A Visual Journey, which will be featured at Rainforest Arts through August. (Photo submitted)
Photographer-painter Nygaard featured at Rainforest Arts

Real images enhanced through digital means to create compelling art

Filming of The Baker’s Son in Chemainus. (File photo by Don Bodger)
Bread-making brilliance and mediocrity the recipe for movie ingredients

Willow Street on the map as a prominent location in The Baker’s Son

The return of Community Policing will be a welcome addition by residents. (File photo by Don Bodger)
Return of Community Policing in the works

Volunteers being sought and coordinators to be announced soon

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

(pixabay file shot)
B.C. ombudsperson labels youth confinement in jail ‘unsafe,’ calls for changes

Review states a maximum of 22 hours for youth, aged 12 from to 17, to be placed in solitary

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

Eleonore Alamillo-Laberge, 6, reads a book in Ottawa on Monday, June 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Parents will need to fight ‘COVID learning slump’ over summer: B.C. literacy experts

Parents who play an active role in educating their children this summer can reverse the slump by nearly 80%, says Janet Mort

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

The B.C. government’s vaccine booking website is busy processing second-dose appointments, with more than 76 per cent of adults having received a first dose. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations stable for Tuesday

108 new confirmed cases, 139 in hospital, 39 in intensive care

Cowichan Tribes man Adrian Sylvester is worried that he was targetted by a trailer hitch thrown from a vehicle. (Facebook photo)
Cowichan Tribes man worried he was target of trailer hitch

Adrian Sylvester says no one has reported a missing hitch after one nearly hit him

Most Read