The nine-year-old lone survivor of a truck attack that killed his parents, sister and grandmother June 6 in London, Ont., has been released from hospital, a family friend said Monday, the same day the accused’s murder and attempted murder charges were upgraded to include terrorism.
Fayez Afzaal “is expected to recover — it’s going to be some time,” Saboor Khan told CBC News, saying Fayez is with relatives. “His family’s main priority is to support him through that recovery.”
The family wishes to keep certain details confidential, such as the exact date of the boy’s release from hospital, as well as where he is now recovering.
Salman Afzaal, 46, his wife Madiha Salman, 44, their daughter Yumna Afzaal, 15, and Salman’s mother, Talat Afzaal, 74, were killed after a pickup truck jumped a curb and ran into them. Investigators have said the family was targeted because of their Muslim faith.
Nathaniel Veltman, 20, was charged with four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder a day after the attack. On Monday, federal and provincial prosecutors added two terrorism charges as the accused appeared in court via video from the Elgin Middlesex Detention Centre.
The new charges against the London resident were announced two days after a funeral that drew thousands to a mosque in the southwestern Ontario city for the public portion of the memorial. Relatives of the family have come to Canada from Australia and Pakistan to attend.
In what was supposed to be a routine court appearance, Veltman wore an oversized orange T-shirt and orange pants, and a blue mask. He told the judge he has not yet retained a lawyer.
Sarah Shaikh, from the Public Prosecution Service of Canada (PPSC), told the accused: “Mr. Veltman, you are now charged with four counts of first-degree murder. In addition to the allegation that these murders were planned and deliberate, the further allegation is that they also constitute terrorism.”
The clerk formally read out the murder and attempted murder charges to Veltman, including the names of the deceased. When he was charged June 7, those names were not available.
Prosecutors also signed a document supporting the terror charges.
‘No further known or suspected threat’
London police worked with the RCMP Integrated National Security Enforcement Team (INSET), the Ministry of the Attorney General and PPSC to determine Veltman should be charged with terrorist activity.
“The London Police Service and RCMP INSET wish to reassure the public that there is no further known or suspected threat to the public associated to the accused at this time,” the city’s police service said in a news release.
“The investigation is ongoing and will continue to be a collaborative effort between the London Police Service and RCMP INSET.”
The release also encourages the public to report anyone who has witnessed or is aware of “any criminal extremism and/or suspicious activities which could pose a threat to public safety and/or national security.”
Under the Criminal Code of Canada, terrorism is an indictable offence. The charges Veltman faces were upgraded Monday to include the terror counts — one for the four murder charges, and another for the attempted murder count —under offences committed “with the intention of intimidating the public, or a segment of the public, with regard to its security.”
The Afzaal family were out for an evening walk in northwest London when a black truck left the road and drove into them as they were waiting to cross at a red light. It marked the first mass killing in the city’s history, in a case that has caused fear in the Muslim community.
Police say the family was targeted because of their Muslim faith.
Since the fatal hit-and-run, there has been an outpouring of cross-country grief and a call for a national summit on Islamophobia.