The hit-and-run deaths of a Muslim family in London, Ont., in what police believe was a targeted attack is drawing condemnation from members of the Muslim community, interest groups and politicians across Canada as condolences poured in to those affected.
Five members of the same family, ranging in age from nine to 74 years old, were out on a Sunday evening walk when the driver of a pickup truck hopped a curb and crashed into them. All but a nine-year-old boy, who remains in hospital with serious injuries, were killed. Their names haven’t yet been released on request of the family.
Nathaniel Veltman, 20, of London, Ont., was charged Monday with four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder. He was arrested late Sunday in a shopping mall’s parking lot a short distance from the scene of the incident.
Police believe the family was targeted because they are Muslim.
London Mayor Ed Holder, speaking out Monday, didn’t mince words.
“Let me be clear: This was an act of mass murder, perpetrated against Muslims — against Londoners — and rooted in unspeakable hatred,” he said. “The magnitude of such hatred can make one question who we are as a city, and who we are as Londoners. It’s up to us — all of us — to answer that question, through not only our words, but our actions. We can say ‘this isn’t who we are,’ and I know that to be true.”
He also stressed that action is needed, as words “are not enough. We must demonstrate, behave, and act on those words. This act of unspeakable hatred, this act of Islamaphobia, must be followed by acts of compassion, acts of kindness, acts of empathy, acts of solidarity — justice — and, above all else, love.”
Social media reaction to the tragedy has also been pouring in:
I’m horrified by the news from London, Ontario. To the loved ones of those who were terrorized by yesterday’s act of hatred, we are here for you. We are also here for the child who remains in hospital – our hearts go out to you, and you will be in our thoughts as you recover.
(1/3) Reports that the killing of a family in London, Ontario was hate motivated because of their Muslim faith is horrific and heart-breaking. To the family and friends of the victims, I want to express my deepest condolences during this unimaginably difficult time.
Our hearts go out to the family and friends of those lost, and to everyone in the London & Muslim communities shaken by these events. All Canadians must confront racism and violence anywhere we see it so we can create a country safe and welcoming for all people.
Islamaphobia is very real and it has lived rent free in London for far too long.<a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/ldnont?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#ldnont</a>
The news from London, ON is horrifying<br><br>A Muslim family was out for a walk – like many this pandemic<br><br>They were murdered because of their faith<br><br>This is an act of Islamophobia & terror<br><br>More than ever we must stand w/ our Muslim family, friends & neighbours against such vile hate <a href=”https://t.co/yyA39WbjR8″>https://t.co/yyA39WbjR8</a>
Islamophobia has consequences.<br><br>Hearing the news of yet another Muslim family attacked, targeting 5 & killing 4, is painful.<br><br>It’s painful as a father.<br><br>It’s painful as a Muslim.<br><br>It’s painful as a Canadian.<br><br>It must stop, there is no place for hate in our country. <a href=”https://t.co/ZrDbFVuzmw”>https://t.co/ZrDbFVuzmw</a>
I was horrified to learn of a disgusting act of Islamophobic terror in London that targeted and killed three generations of a family.<br><br>My heart aches for the family, loved ones & community reeling from this heinous attack & devastating loss. <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/ldnont?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#ldnont</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/ONpoli?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#ONpoli</a> 1/2
Let’s all pray for the 9 year old boy who remains in <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/lLdnOnt?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#lLdnOnt</a> hospital tonight after losing his entire family in last night’s terrorizing mass murder that targeted London’s <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/Muslim?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#Muslim</a> community.