'Heinous crime': Mother of accused in London, Ont. truck attack speaks out

The mother of the man accused of running down a London family with his pickup truck, killing four and severely injuring a nine-year-old boy, calls it a "heinous crime."

Alysia Bisset, the mother of 20-year-old Nathaniel Veltman, responded in an e-mail saying she is “deeply grieved” — and is praying for the victims.

“I am deeply grieved by the heinous crime that was committed this last weekend,” wrote Alysia Bisset in an e-mailed statement to CTV News Toronto.

“I am praying for the victims and the family members of the victims and my heartfelt prayers will continue for all that are affected by this tragedy,” she wrote.

Salman Afzaal, his wife Madiha Salman, their daughter Yumna Afzaal and Afzaal’s 74-year old mother Talat were killed on Sunday night as they were out for a stroll. Nine-year-old Fayez Afzaal survived, but remains in hospital.

London police have said they were targeted because they were Muslims, and the attack was motivated by hate.

One witness said Veltman was wearing a swastika on his shirt and was laughing when he was arrested. Veltman has been charged with four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder.

Veltman appeared in court briefly in London on Thursday morning. He was wearing a face mask and an orange jumpsuit as he appeared by video link from Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre.

He gave short, clear answers to the judge when asked. He has not yet retained a lawyer. The hearing was put over until Monday.

Troubled individuals can find racial or radical ideologies attractive because it can give them a sense of community, sociology professor Lorne Dawson of the University of Waterloo said.

“The evidence on the whole suggests many have troubled lives,” said Dawson. “They are seeking certainty and a dramatic sense of purpose.”

Others advised caution as there is much still unknown about the attack and the accused attacker.

“The question still remains: why this Muslim family, why was he dressed a certain way? There might be other ideological parameters at play,” said religion professor Amaranth Amarasingam of Queen’s University.

Tributes continue to pour in for the Afzaals as flowers mount at the London memorial for them. An online fundraiser for the family has crested $700,000, according to organizers.

None of the charges has been proven in court.

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