Justin Trudeau Calls Killing of Muslim Family a ‘Terrorist Attack’

Four members of the same family were killed while out for a walk. Only a 9-year-old boy survived.
People pay their respects at the scene where a man driving a pickup truck struck and killed four members of a Muslim family in London, Ontario, on Monday
People pay their respects at the scene where a man driving a pickup truck struck and killed four members of a Muslim family in London, Ontario, on Monday. Photo by Nicole OSBORNE/AFP via Getty Images

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is calling the killing of four Muslims in London, Ontario, a “terrorist attack, motivated by hatred.”

On Sunday, three generations of a family were killed after a black pickup truck mounted the curb at a high speed and intentionally ran them down. 

Police have arrested and charged Nathaniel Veltman, 20, with four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder. Canada’s federal police force, the RCMP, is working with London police and there is a chance terror charges may be filed. Police said the act was motivated by hate and the family was targeted solely because they were Muslim. 


A family statement has identified the victims as Salman Afzaal, 46, Madiha Afzaal, 44, and their 15-year-old daughter Yumna. It does not name the 74-year-old woman who was killed but described her as Yumna’s grandmother. The youngest in the family, Fayez, 9, is currently recovering in hospital with serious but not life-threatening injuries.  

“Everyone who knew Salman and the rest of the Afzal family knows the model family they were as Muslims, Canadians, and Pakistanis,” the statement said. “They were always giving and participating in spreading goodness."

It described Yumna and Fayez as top students in their school and asked for the community to come together against Islamophobia. 

“We need to understand that this destruction of a family in the brutal and horrific manner like this is something we must all stand against,” it said. “We need to stand against hate and Islamophobia and raise awareness in our communities and throughout all of the political spectrum.”

Trudeau addressed the killings during a speech in the House of Commons Tuesday morning. He described the Afzaal family as doing something many families have been doing during this pandemic, going for an evening walk after a long day at home.

“Unlike every other night, that family never made it home,” he said. “Their lives were taken in a brutal, cowardly, brazen act of violence. This killing was no accident. This was a terrorist attack, motivated by hatred, in the heart of one of our communities."


The family’s mosque, London Muslim Mosque, will be holding a vigil for the family Tuesday evening. Students at the school Yumna attended are planning on holding signs of support for the family near the mosque. Trudeau is expected to participate in the vigil. 

Later in the week, a multi-faith march organized by leaders in the Catholic, Jewish, and Muslim communities against hate will be held.

Little is known about Veltman at the moment. Police haven’t released many details on him other than saying the killings were motivated by hate. The family statement said that “this young man who committed this act of terror was influenced by a group that he associated with, and the rest of the community must take a strong stand against this."

Police say Veltman drove his black pickup truck at a high speed into the family as they waited at an intersection. He continued to drive at a high speed after he struck them and eventually stopped in a parking lot 7 kilometres away, steps from London Muslim Mosque. He was arrested by police who arrived shortly after. Police say he was wearing something like a bulletproof vest at the time of his arrest. 

Two fundraisers set up for the family have raised over $800,000.

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