OTTAWA — The driver of a pickup truck in London, Ontario, who ran down five pedestrians, killing four of them, targeted his victims because they were Muslim, the police said on Monday.
“There is evidence that this was a planned, premeditated act and that the family was targeted because of their Muslim faith,” said Det.-Insp. Paul Waight of the London Police at a news conference.
Mayor Ed Holder of London, which is midway between Detroit and Toronto, called it “an act of mass murder perpetrated against Muslims, against Londoners and rooted in unspeakable hatred.”
The police told reporters that a man in a black pickup truck drove up on a curb Sunday evening and mowed down a family standing on the sidewalk as they waited to cross a busy suburban road. The victims, who were not publicly identified by the police, were a 74-year-old woman, a 46-year-old man, a 44-year-old woman and a 15-year-old girl. A 9-year-old boy was taken to the hospital with what were described as serious but not life-threatening injuries.
The driver fled from the scene at a high speed before being arrested in a shopping mall parking lot about four miles away.
He was publicly identified as Nathaniel Veltman, 20, on Monday, when he was charged with four counts of first-degree, or premeditated, murder and one count of attempted murder. The police said that they are consulting the attorney general and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the national force, about possible terrorism charges.
Little information about Mr. Veltman’s actions, other than the motive, was offered by the police, but they did say that he was not a known member of any hate group and that he did not know the members of the family.
The killings echoed a rampage in Toronto in 2018 in which a man used a rental van to mow down pedestrians on sidewalks, killing 10 people and severely injuring 16.