As a devastated community mourns the deaths of four members of a Muslim family in an apparent hate-motivated attack – more details are emerging about the young man accused of intentionally hitting them with his truck, and leaving a 9-year-old boy an orphan.
London Police say the incident that occurred on Sunday night was a planned and premeditated act that was “motivated by hate.”
The accused is 20-year-old Nathaniel Veltman, charged with four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder.
The RCMP are coordinating with local police on potential charges related to terrorism. So far, officials have not yet linked Veltman to any other suspects or hate groups as they continue to investigate online.
Police say there was no known prior relationship between the suspect and the victims.
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Witness reports say Veltman was wearing a military helmet and bullet-proof vest when he was arrested and multiple reports suggest he was laughing when he was taken into custody by police in a mall parking lot seven kilometres from the crime scene.
The Globe and Mail are reporting that he bought the black Dodge Ram pickup truck used in the attack three weeks ago from a dealership in London for approximately $25,000.
Facebook Canada confirms it has removed what was believed to be the accused’s account shortly after the attack.
Gray Ridge Eggs, an egg farm near Strathroy Ont., confirmed that Veltman worked there as a part-time employee.
The company released a statement saying they were “shocked and saddened” to learn that Veltman had been charged in the attack.
“We join our community in expressing condemnation of this violent attack and offer our heartfelt sympathy to the family and the Muslim community,” reads the statement.
The attack sent shockwaves through the Muslim community, with one group saying the tragedy has all the hallmarks of a terrorist attack and should be treated as such.
Pandemic restrictions were eased Tuesday evening to allow mourners to attend a vigil for the family at their London Mosque.
Veltman is set to appear in court in London on Thursday.
London police chair board vows to ‘dismantle white supremacy’ in city
The head of London’s police services board says the racism that appears to have fueled a deadly attack on a Muslim family is not isolated.
Board chairman Javeed Sukhera says in a statement that the board will work to “dismantle white supremacy” in the city and continue to address Islamophobia.
Sukhera says the board has heard from the local Muslim community that its members live in fear.
He says two previous Muslim police board chairs were also subjected to racist attacks that increased when the group worked to address racism.
Sukhera says the board will continue to tackle racism and is also joining a call by the London Muslim Mosque for a national summit on Islamophobia between all levels of government.
With files from The Canadian Press