A Pakistani Muslim family taking an evening walk in London, Ontario, on Sunday was killed in a hit-and-run incident that local authorities believe to be hate-motivated.
The incident: Five members of the family were reportedly waiting to cross an intersection near Hyde Park Road at about 8:40 p.m. when a black pickup suddenly mounted the curb and slammed into all of them before speeding off, reported NBC News.
- CBC confirmed the victim’s identities as Salman Afzaal, 46, his wife Madiha Salman, 44, their 15-year-old daughter Yumna Afzaal and Salman’s 74-year-old mother, Talat Afzaal.
- The couple’s 9-year-old son, Fayez, survived and is currently recovering at a hospital with serious but non-life threatening injuries.
- The suspect, identified as Nathaniel Veltman, 20, was arrested without incident about four miles away from the scene.
- A cab driver who witnessed the arrest claimed Veltman laughed as police apprehended him in a mall parking lot, reported the London Free Press.
“Because they were Muslim”: Police said on Monday that they have evidence that Veltman’s attack was planned, premeditated, and “motivated by hate.” They divulged no other details about the evidence.
- “It is believed these victims were targeted because they were Muslim,” Detective Supt. Paul Waight was quoted as saying. “There is no known previous connection between the suspect and the victims.”
- Initial findings show Veltman is not involved with any known hate groups and does not have a criminal record.
- Veltman, who appeared in court by videoconference Monday afternoon, was charged with four counts of first-degree murder and a count of attempted murder. Terrorism charges are also being considered.
Loss: Originally from Pakistan, Salman and Madiha arrived in Canada in 2007 with their then-baby daughter Yumna to start a new life as a family.
- Members of the local community, who have come to know the family, were devastated by their passing.
- A two-hour vigil “filled with prayers and calls for action against Islamophobia” was held for the family outside of the London Muslim Mosque on Tuesday evening and live-streamed on its Facebook page.
- Sana Yasir, a family friend, set up a GoFundMe for the 9-year-old survivor, which has raised over $600,000 CAD ($496,000) as of this writing.
Featured Image via Global News