Authorities said three generations of family members were “targeted” because of their Muslim religion at a London, Ontario, intersection. The London, Ontario, Muslim mosque is raising money to help the family here.
“In one act of murder some individual has wiped out three generations of family. It’s horrific,” Mayor Ed Holder told The Associated Press.
Relatives identified the victims as: Salman Afzaal, 46, his 44-year-old wife Madiha Salman, their 15-year-old daughter Yumna Salman and Afzaal’s 74-year-old mother. The family later released a lengthy statement:
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Police Say the Victims Were Targeted ‘Because of Their Islamic Faith’
Chief Steve Williams said during a news conference that the attack was purposeful.
“During the course of the investigation, we believe that this was an intentional act and that the victims of this horrific incident were targeted. We believe the victims were targeted because of their Islamic faith,” he said.
He recognized that the Muslim community might feel fear and anxiety as a result of the attack.
He said people “stand with you and support you. There is no tolerance in this community for individuals motivated by hate.” Veltman is accused of plowing his pickup truck into the family.
In a news release, London that police wrote, “Investigators believe that this was an intentional act and that the victims were targeted because of their Islamic faith. There is evidence that this was a planned, premeditated act, motivated by hate.”
“On Sunday, June 6, 2021, at approximately 8:40 p.m., a vehicle struck five citizens as they walked along the west side of Hyde Park Road, where it meets South Carriage Road,” London police wrote in a press release.
“A black pickup truck, occupied by a lone male traveling southbound on Hyde Park Road, mounted the curb and struck the five victims waiting to cross the intersection. The pickup truck continued to travel southbound on Hyde Park Road at a high rate of speed. It was observed to turn left on Oxford Street, not stopping for the red light. Several 9-1-1 calls were received and emergency crews quickly attended the scene, and commenced life-saving efforts.”
2. Veltman Is a Resident of London, Ontario, Reports Say
According to London police, Veltman is 20 years old. He is a resident of London, Ontario.
“As a result of the investigation, Nathaniel Veltman, 20, of London, has been charged with four counts of first degree murder and one count of attempt murder. He appeared in London court today in relation to the charges,” police wrote.
“Family members of the victims have requested that the names of the victims not be released at this time. The post-mortems are scheduled to occur tomorrow at the Centre of Forensic Sciences in Toronto.”
Although photos that are purportedly of the victims have circulated on social media, Heavy is not publishing them at this time due to those requests.
3. The Family Members Were Struck While They Waited to Cross the Intersection
London police reported that the victims were “all members of the same family. The deceased include a 74-year-old female, a 46-year-old male, a 44-year-old female, and a 15-year-old female. One 9-year-old male remains in hospital with serious, but non-life-threatening injuries.”
AP said the victims were “a grandmother, father, mother and teenage daughter,” and added that the family were Pakistani immigrants who were just going out for a daily walk and were considered “dedicated, decent and generous members of the London Muslim Mosque.”
According to CBC, the family members “were waiting to cross the intersection, in northwest London,” when Veltman’s truck allegedly jumped the curb and ran them over. The Free Press reported that the victims included parents.
4. Veltman, Who Had No Criminal History, Is Accused of Wearing a Body Armor Style Vest
According to CBC, Veltman does not have a prior criminal history. Det.-Supt. Paul Waight told London Free Press that Veltman “has had past interactions with other police forces, but nothing of a serious nature.”
Authorities don’t believe the suspect knew the victims, according to the press release.
He was taken into custody near the crash and was discovered to be wearing a body armor style vest, CBC reported. Authorities have not released the information that led them to believe the attack was intentional and motivated by religion.
Authorities wrote in the press release, “At approximately 8:45 p.m., the lone occupant of the vehicle stopped in the parking lot of a mall located at Oxford Street West and Cherryhill Boulevard, a distance of approximately seven (7) km away from the scene. Police attended this location and placed the driver under arrest.”
“We grieve for the family, three generations of whom are now deceased,” London’s Mayor Ed Holder told CBC. “This was an act of mass murder, perpetrated against Muslims, against Londoners, and rooted in unspeakable hatred.”
It’s not yet clear whether Veltman was affiliated with any outside group.
5. A Witness Saw the Pickup Truck Roar Past
A witness, Paige Martin, told The Associated Press that the pickup “roared past her” while she was at a red light.
The aftermath was horrific.
She heard screaming and soon saw “a police officer performing chest compressions on one person and three other people lying on the ground,” AP reported.