Father of accused in anti-Islamic attack expressing ‘shock and horror’

A memorial continues to grow at the corner of Hyde Park and South Carriage roads in honour of a Muslim family who was run down Sunday night, June 8, 2021. Photo by Blair Henatyzen.

The father of the man accused in the alleged anti-Islamic attack in London that left four members of a Muslim family dead and a fifth seriously hurt calls it a “senseless act.”

In an emailed statement to media outlets, including Postmedia, Mark Veltman condemned Sunday night’s killings.

“It was with utmost shock and horror that I came to hear of the unspeakable crime committed last weekend,” Mark Veltman wrote. “There are no words adequate to properly express my deep sorrow for the victims of this senseless act.”

He ended by making it clear no further comments would be made as the investigation is ongoing.

The brief statement is the first to come from the family of Nathaniel Veltman since the fatal hit-and-run. The 20-year-old man is charged with four counts of first degree murder and one count of attempted murder.

The charges were laid one day after the family of five was run down while out for an evening walk in the area of Hyde Park Road and South Carriage Road. The family had been waiting to cross the street when a pickup truck jumped the curb hitting them.

Salman Afzaal, 46, his wife Madiha Salman, 44, their 15-year-old daughter Yumna Afzaal,and Salman Afzaal’s 74-year-old mother Talat Afzaal were killed. Nine-year-old Fayez Salman suffered serious injuries, but survived the collision.

According to London police, there is evidence that the killings were a planned, premeditated act, motivated by hate.

Veltman made a video court appearance on Thursday from the Elgin Middlesex Detention Centre. He spoke clearly and calmly during the five-minute appearance. It was determined he requires legal aid and is still in the process of retaining legal counsel. He has been in contact with a London criminal defence lawyer.

The case was adjourned until Monday.

A massive memorial has been erected at the corner where the Afzaal family was attacked. A steady stream of people have attended the spot all week to mourn and leave behind flowers, stuffed animals, and candles.

A vigil held outside of the London Muslim Mosque on Tuesday night drew more than 10,000 people, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Doug Ford.

Nearly $2 million has been raised through two family approved crowdfunding campaigns for Fayez Salman, who is still in hospital.

The LaunchGood campaign, tagged London Community United Against Hate, has raised more than $1-million, while the GoFundMe page has brought in more than $773,000.

An outdoor funeral service for the four family members killed is scheduled to be held at the Islamic Centre of Southwest Ontario on Pond Mills Road at 1 p.m. on Saturday. A private burial service will follow.