LONDON, Ont. _ Prosecutors say the attack against a Muslim family in southwestern Ontario that left four dead and one injured was an act of terrorism.
Twenty-year-old Nathaniel Veltman had been charged with four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder in the June 6 incident in London, Ont.
Federal Crown Sarah Shaikh says prosecutors have now received consent from the country’s attorney general to go ahead with terrorism proceedings.
Veltman, who has yet to retain a lawyer, made a brief court appearance via video this morning and said he understood the new charges.
#BREAKING A federal prosecutor has confirmed that terrorism charges are being pursued against Nathaniel Veltman. His four counts of first degree murder and one count of attempted murder now include a terrorism offence according to Federal Crown, Sarah Shaikh.
— Adrian Ghobrial (@CityAdrian) June 14, 2021
Salman Afzaal, 46, his 44-year-old wife Madiha Salman, their 15-year-old daughter Yumna and her 74-year-old grandmother, Talat Afzaal were killed while out for an evening walk.
The couple’s nine-year-old son, Fayez, was seriously injured but is expected to recover.
Police allege the incident was a planned and premeditated attack targeting Muslims.
Saboor Khan, a friend of the family, said upgrading the charges against Veltman was “the right thing to do.”
“The family and the community has been terrorized and many of us are afraid to leave our homes,” Khan said.
A funeral for the family drew hundreds of mourners to the Islamic Centre of Southwest Ontario over the weekend.
Veltman’s next court date is scheduled for June 21.