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Driver who killed 4 members of Muslim family targeted them over faith: cops

Ns News Online Desk:Ns News Online Desk: The family issued a statement identifying the victims as Salman Afzal, 46, his wife Madiha, 44, their daughter Yumna, 15, and a 74-year-old grandmother whose name was withheld. The hospitalized boy was identified as Fayez.

“Everyone who knew Salman and the rest of the Afzal family know the model family they were as Muslims, Canadians and Pakistanis,” the statement said.“They worked extremely hard in their fields and excelled. Their children were top students in their school and connected strongly with their spiritual identity,” it added.

Salman was a physiotherapist and cricket enthusiast and Madiha was working on a PhD in civil engineering at Western University, according to an online fundraising account. Their daughter was finishing ninth grade, and the grandmother was a “pillar” of the family, it said.The family said the public must stand against hate and Islamophobia.

“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, from the highest levels in our government to every member of the community,” they said in the statement.The five family members were walking together along a sidewalk at about 8:40 p.m. Sunday when the black vehicle “mounted the curb and struck” them as they waited to cross the intersection, police said.

Mayor Ed Holder called the incident “an act of mass murder perpetuated against Muslims. It was rooted in unspeakable hatred.”

Police Chief Stephen Williams also said “there is no tolerance in this community who are motivated by hate target others with violence.”

Paige Martin, a nearby resident who witnessed the aftermath of the deadly crash, said she was stopped at a red light when a large pickup roared past her. She said her vehicle shook from the force.“I was shaken up, thinking it was an erratic driver,″ Martin said, adding that she soon came upon the gruesome, chaotic scene at the intersection

First responders soon arrived to help, a police officer performed chest compressions on one person and three other people lying on the ground.

Several drivers also got out of their vehicles to help.

“I can’t get the sound of the screams out of my head,” Martin said. “My heart is just so broken for them.”

Family friend Zahid Khan said the victims had immigrated from Pakistan 14 years ago and were dedicated, decent and generous members of the London Muslim Mosque.“They were just out for their walk that they would go out for every day,” Khan said through tears near the site. “I just wanted to see.”

Qazi Khalil said he saw the family, who lived nearby, on Thursday when they were out for a walk.

“This has totally destroyed me from the inside. I can’t really come to terms they were no longer here,” Khalil said.

Holder said flags would be lowered for three days in the city, which he said has 30,000 to 40,000 Muslims among its more than 400,000 residents. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a tweet: “To the Muslim community in London and to Muslims across the country, know that we stand with you.

“Islamophobia has no place in any of our communities. This hate is insidious and despicable — and it must stop,” he added. The National Council of Canadian Muslims said in a statement it was “beyond horrified and demands justice” for the victims, who were just “out for a walk” on a warm spring evening.

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