Nathaniel Veltman, 20, was charged Monday with four counts of first-degree murder as well as the attempted murder of an injured 9-year-old boy

By Christine Pelisek
June 08, 2021 01:35 PM
hate crime in London Ontario
The alleged hate crime occurred on Sunday
| Credit: Brett Gundlock/Anadolu Agency via Getty

A Muslim family in London, Ontario, who were out on a Sunday night walk were struck by a truck in what a police release alleges was a "planned, premeditated act, motivated by hate" that killed four.

Nathaniel Veltman, 20, was charged Monday with four counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of four family members and the attempted murder of a nine-year-old boy who was injured in the attack. 

In a statement, family members identified the victims as Salman Afzal, 46, his 44-year-old wife Madiha Salman, their daughter Yumna, 15, and a 74-year-old grandmother whose name has been withheld, ABC reports.

The couple's nine-year-old son Fayez was injured in the attack, according to ABC.

"Everyone who knew Salman and the rest of the Afzal family know the model family they were as Muslims, Canadians and Pakistanis," the statement said, ABC reports. "They worked extremely hard in their fields and excelled. Their children were top students in their school and connected strongly with spiritual their identity."

hate crime in London Ontario
Credit: Brett Gundlock/Anadolu Agency via Getty

Police have not released the names of the victims. 

Authorities said the victims were at an intersection around 8:40 p.m. Sunday when Veltman allegedly jumped the curb in his black pick-up truck, struck the family members and then fled at a high rate of speed. 

"Investigators believe that this was an intentional act and that the victims were targeted because of their Islamic faith," police said in the statement. "There is evidence that this was a planned, premeditated act, motivated by hate." 

Veltman was arrested a short time later in a nearby mall parking lot. He was wearing a body armor-type vest, police said, Reuters reports. 

"There is no known previous connection between the suspect and the victims," police said in the statement. 

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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemned the attack on Twitter, stating, "Islamophobia has no place in any of our communities. This hate is insidious and despicable - and it must stop."

Ontario Premier Doug Ford wrote on Twitter, "Hate and Islamophobia have NO place in Ontario. Justice must be served for the horrific act of hatred that took place." 

It was not immediately clear if Veltman has entered a plea or retained an attorney who could comment on his behalf.