The family of four Muslims who police said were intentionally murdered because of their faith have called for action against Islamophobia.
London, Ontario Police said Syed Afzal (46), his mother (74), his wife Madiha (44), and his daughter Yumnah (15) were intentionally run down by the driver of a speeding truck who targeted the family because of their faith. Nine year old Faez was the only survivor and is recovering from serious injuries.
Police said at 8:40 p.m. on Sunday, a black pickup truck driven by a lone man mounted the curb of a busy London intersection and struck a family of five as they waited to cross the street. The driver sped off, leaving a scene of chaos and tragedy.
The extended family have released the following statement:
On Monday, London Police announced four first-degree murder charges against Nathaniel Veltman, 20, who was arrested five minutes after the incident, seven kilometres away from the scene. He also faces one count of attempted murder.
“Investigators believe that this was an intentional act and that the victims were targeted because of their Islamic faith,” the police said in a statement. “There is evidence that this was a planned, premeditated act, motivated by hate.”
Veltman, who is from London, appeared in court on Monday. There is no known connection between Veltman and the victims, police said.
Muslims in London and across the country have called for the accused to face “the fullest extent of the law.”
In a statement, London Mayor Ed Holder decried the deaths as “an act of mass murder perpetrated against Muslims, against Londoners, and rooted in unspeakable hatred.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was “horrified” by the “act of hatred.”
“To the Muslim community in London and to Muslims across the country, know that we stand with you,” Trudeau said in a statement. “Islamophobia has no place in any of our communities. This hate is insidious and despicable — and it must stop.”