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Parents of man accused in anti-Muslim attack in London, Ont. appalled, praying for victims

Last Updated Jun 11, 2021 at 12:28 pm EDT

Mourners place flowers at the scene of a hate-motivated vehicle attack in London, Ont. on Tuesday, June 8, 2021, which left four members of a family dead and their nine-year-old son in hospital. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Geoff Robins

LONDON, Ont. – The father of a man accused in the deadly attack against a Muslim family in southwestern Ontario is calling the incident “a senseless act.”

Mark Veltman says what happened was an “unspeakable crime” and there are no words to properly express his sorrow for the victims.

The man’s mother says she is “grieved by the horrific tragedy.”

Alysia Bisset tells the Canadian Press she is praying for the victims and their family members.

Nathaniel Veltman, 20, made a brief virtual appearance in court this morning to face four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder.

Veltman, wearing an orange T-shirt and orange pants with a blue mask, spoke calmly and clearly from the Elgin Middlesex Detention Centre.

Relatives have identified the dead 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.

“Mr. Veltman have you retained counsel?” asked Justice of the Peace Robert Seneshen.

RELATED: Why London Police won’t release mugshot of Nathaniel Veltman

“I’ve only spoken to them,” Veltman said, adding that he was in discussions with a local law firm.

Police allege the attack was a planned and premeditated act that targeted Muslims.

Court heard that the Crown continues to work on disclosure, which will be provided to Veltman once he has retained a lawyer.

Veltman is set to return to court on June 14.

Meanwhile, calls continue to grow for a national summit on anti-Muslim hate.

The National Council for Canadian Muslims has a petition signed by more than 35,000 people calling for all levels of government to tackle Islamophobia.

“This loss of a family, the loss of a child in our community because of Islamophobia – this is a sorrow that will run deep for a long time,” the council wrote in the petition.

“Let that sorrow be the ground where we stand for justice and stand for change.”

The group’s petition echoes a call by the London Muslim Mosque, to which the family belonged.

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