Attack on Canadian Muslim family that left four dead was hate crime

ONTARIO : A man accused of killing four members of a Canadian Muslim family by running them over in his pickup, targeted them in an attack motivated by hate, police said.

Police in London, Ontario, citing witnesses, said on Monday that Nathaniel Veltman, 20, jumped the kerb in his vehicle on Sunday, struck five members of the family, ranging in age from nine to 74, and then drove off at high speed.

Veltman, a resident of London who was arrested after the incident, has been charged with four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder.

"There is evidence that this was a planned, premeditated act, motivated by hate," Detective Superintendent Paul Waight of the London police department told reporters.

"We believe the victims were targeted because of their Islamic faith."

The suspect does not have a criminal record and is not known to be a member of a hate group, police said.

He was arrested in a mall parking lot without incident while wearing a body armour-type vest, police said. There is no evidence he had any accomplices.

Police have not released the victims' names, but the London Free Press said that among the dead were Mr Syed Afzaal, 46, his wife, Ms Madiha Salman, 44, and their 15-year-old daughter, Yumnah Afzaal. Mr Syed Afzaal's 74-year-old mother, whose name has not been confirmed, also died.

The couple's nine-year-old son, Faez Afzaal, is in the hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries.

The family immigrated from Pakistan about 14 years ago, according to media reports.

Witness Paige Martin said a black truck blasted past her and ran a red light as she was walking, and then she came upon the scene and saw "chaos".

"It was just absolutely like something that you never want to see," she said.

The attack was the worst against Canadian Muslims since a man gunned down six members of a Quebec City mosque in 2017. - REUTERS