London, Ontario: Police said on Monday that a man accused of running over four members of a Canadian Muslim family in his pickup truck and killing them was motivated by hatred.
Witnesses were quoted by police in London, Ontario, saying that 20-year-old Nathaniel Veltman jumped off the side of the road in his car on Sunday and assaulted five family members, aged 9 to 74. The age ranged, and then drove away at high speed.
Wiltman, a London resident who was arrested after the incident, was charged with four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder. After being remanded on Monday, he will appear in court again on Thursday.
“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,” Waight said.
He added that police in London – 200 km (120 miles) southwest of Toronto – were consulting with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and prosecutors about potentially filing terrorism charges.
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-armor-type vest, police said. There is no evidence he had any accomplices. It was not immediately known if the suspect had hired a lawyer.
Police have not yet released the victims’ names, but the London Free Press said that among the dead were Syed Afzaal, 46, his wife, Madiha Salman, 44, and their 15-year-old daughter, Yumnah Afzaal. Syed Afzaal’s 74-year-old mother, whose name is not yet confirmed, also died. Their 9-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.