Police in London, Ontario, Canada, located approximately 200 km west of Toronto, believe that five members of the same family were targeted due to their Islamic faith.
According to the London Free Press, a driver struck the five, killing four of them, while they were walking in the city’s northwest end on Sunday evening.
London’s police chief, Steve Williams, said Monday afternoon that investigators “believe this was an intentional act” and that “the victims of this horrific incident were targeted because of their Islamic faith.”
Three adults are dead along with a teenager. A youth remains in hospital with serious injuries.
The suspect, Nathaniel (Nate) Veltman, 20, is charged with four counts of first-degree murder. and one count of attempted murder.
“I speak on behalf of all Londoners when I say our hearts are broken,” Mayor Ed Holder said in a statement on Monday afternoon. “We grieve for the family, three generations of whom are now deceased. We weep for their loved ones. We pray for the recovery of the 9-year-old boy who remains in hospital.”
There have been several attacks targeting Muslims in Canada in recent years, the most-well known of which being the shooting attack on the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec in 2017, in which six worshipers were killed.
The Quebec City shooter, Alexandre Bissonnette, was described after his arrest as a white supremacist opposed to Muslim immigration but not affiliated with any group.
Last year, Bissonnette’s sentence was reduced to 25 years in prison when a Canadian court ruled it was unconstitutional for him to serve consecutive life sentences.