Clasping his hands together, wearing an orange jumpsuit and a blue mask, accused London attacker Nathaniel Veltman made a brief court appearance in a courtroom via video Thursday.
Veltman, who is being held at Elgin Middlesex Detention Centre, faces four counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Salman Afzaal, 46, Madiha Salman, 44, Yumna Salman, 15, and Talat Afzaal, 74.
He is also accused of attempting to murder nine-year-old Fayez, the sole surviving family member, who was injured in the attack.
Calling himself “Nate,” the 20-year-old accused he was in the process of obtaining a lawyer. He showed no emotion during the brief procedural hearing, which was adjourned until June 14.
Lawyer Alayna Jay provided Veltman contact information for her firm, and confirmed he will need to apply for legal aid.
Jay initially asked for Veltman’s case to return later next week before lawyer Amir Hage interjected to say the Crown lawyers were requesting the matter come back sooner.
When asked why, Hage said, “to keep the matter current and ensure disclosure” documents be prepared.
London police have called the crime an intentional act and said the victims “were targeted because of their Islamic faith,” saying there is evidence this was “a planned, premeditated act, motivated by hate.”
The Integrated National Security Enforcement Team, which includes the RCMP and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, has been engaged by London police — a step that could suggest authorities are considering potential terrorism charges.
Police have not revealed what information led them to conclude — less than 24 hours after the attack — that the murders were motivated by hate, including whether Veltman confessed to targeting Muslim people. Police said on Monday that they didn’t know of Veltman’s membership in any specific hate group.
A public funeral service is scheduled for the four victims at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday outside the Islamic Centre of Southwest Ontario in London.
Before the service, there will be a procession through the streets of London, starting from the O’Neil Funeral Home, where family and relatives will hold a private visitation Saturday morning.
The Afzaal family was out for a Sunday walk at dusk when police say they were intentionally run down by the driver of a speeding pickup truck just after 8:40 p.m. on a clear, warm night.
The truck, allegedly driven by Veltman, mounted the curb of a busy London intersection, near Hyde Park Road and South Carriage Road, and struck the family of five as they waited to cross the street.
The driver sped off and was arrested about five minutes later, just a block away from the London Muslim Mosque, after aggressively yelling at a nearby taxi driver to call police.
Veltman asked a driver from the Yellow London Taxi company to call 911, according to Hasan Savehilaghi, who owns the company and spoke directly to the driver after the incident.
As police officers arrived and arrested Veltman, he seemed to be chanting a slogan but the cab driver couldn’t make out the words. Veltman asked the cab driver to record the arrest as he was put on the ground and handcuffed, but the driver did not.
Wendy Gillis is a Toronto-based reporter covering crime and policing for the Star. Reach her by email at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter: @wendygillis