LONDON, ONT. –
Police in London, Ontario. have charged a suspect with quadruple first degree murder and one attempted murder after allegedly beating five pedestrians for their Islamic beliefs and killing four members of the same family.
A 74-year-old woman, a 46-year-old man, a 44-year-old woman and a 15-year-old girl died. A nine-year-old boy is recovering from serious, but not life-threatening injuries in the hospital.
The crash occurred around 8:40 p.m. Sunday when a pickup truck driver, Nathaniel Veltman, 20, from London allegedly hit five people on Hyde Park Road near South Carriage Road.
During a press conference Monday afternoon, London police confirmed that there was evidence that the incident was hateful and planned, but did not get to the bottom of it.
« There is evidence that this was a planned, deliberate act and that the family was targeted for their Muslim beliefs, » said Det.-Insp. Paul Waight during the briefing.
Police also confirmed that the suspect was wearing an armored vest during the incident on Sunday and that potential terrorism allegations are being considered. Waight added that there was no known prior link between the defendant and the victims.
The police did not disclose the names of the victims and at this point ask the family for privacy.
London Police Chief Steve Williams on Monday expressed his condolences to the family and the wider Muslim community.
“We understand that this event can create fear and anxiety in the community, and particularly in the Muslim community and in any community affected by hatred. I want to assure all Londoners that we all stand by and support you today and many others, « said Williams.
« These were innocent people who were killed just because they were Muslims, » said community spokesman Nawaz Tahir. « We will be strong against hatred. We will be strong against Islamophobia. We will respond with love to those who try to terrorize our community. »
London Mayor Ed Holder also spoke at the virtual press conference on Monday and published a statement.
« I speak on behalf of all Londoners when I say our hearts are broken. We mourn the family, three generations of which have now passed away. We cry for loved ones. We pray for the 9-year-old boy’s recovery. » who stays in the hospital. I have ordered that the flags be lowered in front of London City Hall for three days of mourning. «
Eyewitness Natasha, who only wanted to give her first name, said she was on her way home from the beach with her family at the time of the crash.
« We saw cars stop and the first thing we saw was something moving on the corner … as we got closer we saw a kid with black hair, » she said.
At that moment Natasha explained that she was shielding her little daughter’s eyes when she and her husband noticed two other people lying on the floor.
« (My daughter) said when we were at home: The (child) was crying mom, and now it’s dark. »
A second witness spoke to the media on Monday morning and described the scene when ambulances arrived.
« It was just chaos. There were people running everywhere, » said Paige Martin. « The citizens tried to show the emergency vehicles the way. There was a lot of shouting and shouting and waving their arms. »
Investigators stayed on Monday and tried to find out exactly what led to the fatal crash.
Veltman was arrested in the Cherryhill Village Mall parking lot on Oxford Street about four kilometers from the scene, shortly after the family was beaten.
« I’m still in shock, » said Martin visibly emotionally. “I am very shocked to know that there are children, several children. It’s horrible, this family is just out for a walk … My heart is so broken for them today. «
Meanwhile, condolences to the family and friends of the victims of the London crash are pouring in on social media:
Our deepest condolences go to the families of the three adults and one teenager who lost their lives last night in Hyde Park. Our thoughts are with them and the family of the hospitalized child. | #LdnOnt
My heart breaks for the families of the four people who were tragically killed in Hyde Park last night. Words can never express how we are feeling right now, and I know all of London is part of that grief. We expect further updates from @lpsmediaoffice on this unspeakable tragedy.
It’s so devastating for so many people. My heart goes out to the families of the injured and killed. Just tragic. #ldnont https://t.co/xL6Iib39HW
Police are investigating a collision in London, Ontario on Monday, June 7, 2021, in which four pedestrians were killed and a fifth injured. (Brent Lale / CTV News)
London police investigators comb the site of a fatal accident in London, Ontario. four people died on Monday, June 7, 2021. (Jim Knight / CTV London)
The collision occurred on Hyde Park Road near South Carriage Road and the driver was found about 7 kilometers away in Cherry Hill Mall on Oxford Street West in London, Ontario, Arrested.
A police cruiser can be seen in Cherryhill Mall in London, Ontario. on Monday, June 7, 2021. A driver suspected of being involved in a fatal pedestrian accident was arrested there on Sunday night. (Brent Lale / CTV News)
Photos: Investigation after fatal pedestrian collision
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