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London, Ont. attack suspect makes brief court appearance

Last Updated Jun 10, 2021 at 2:16 pm PDT

A sketch of Nathaniel Veltman, accused of deliberately driving down and killing four members of a Muslim family in London, Ont. appearing in court on June 10, 2021. (CityNews Photo)
Summary

20-year-old suspect in London, Ont. attack faces four counts of first-degree murder, one count of attempted murder

Muslim family was run down while out for a walk on Sunday in London

Police have said the attack was a planned and premeditated act that targeted Muslims

LONDON, Ont. – The man accused of deliberately driving down and killing four members of a Muslim family in London, Ont., made a brief court appearance Thursday morning.

Nathaniel Veltman faces four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder.

The London man appeared before a virtual courtroom via video from Elgin Middlesex Detention Centre. The 20-year-old confirmed he’s only spoken to a lawyer on the phone, and that he has yet to officially retain legal council.

No new charges were announced on Thursday.

The defence asked for the next court date to be set for June 17. However, the Crown has asked the case return earlier, and his next court date has been set for June 14.

 

Relatives have identified the deceased as 46-year-old Salman Afzaal, his 44-year-old wife Madiha Salman, their 15-year-old daughter Yumna Salman and her 74-year-old grandmother, Talat Afzaal.

The couple’s nine-year-old son, Fayez, was seriously wounded but is expected to recover.

The attack happened on Sunday, when the family was out for a walk. Police have said the attack was a planned and premeditated act that targeted Muslims.

The London Muslim Mosque, which the family belonged to, has called for a national summit on Islamophobia between all levels of government in the days since the tragedy.


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On Tuesday, thousands of people gathered at the mosque to mourn the family members killed. Speakers, including several dignitaries, spoke of resiliency and of not cowering to fear or hate.
Others spoke of the outpouring of sympathy unleashed by the senseless tragedy. They promised to take care of the surviving nine-year-old son.

The attack has been denounced as an act of terrorism by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. However, some experts say it’s possible the terrorism label will not be reflected in the charges against the 20-year-old suspect.