Finsbury Park suspect's family 'devastated'
20 June 2017 National News
The family of the man suspected of deliberately driving a van into a crowd of worshippers outside a mosque says “their hearts go out to the injured”.
Ellis Osborne said his uncle Darren Osborne was “not a racist” and had never expressed any racist views.
In a statement on behalf of the family, Ellis, 26, said: “We are massively shocked; it’s unbelievable, it still hasn’t really sunk in.
“We are devastated for the families, our hearts go out to the people who have been injured.”
He added: “Its madness. It is obviously sheer madness.”
Darren Osborne, a 47-year-old who is believed to be a father-of-four from Cardiff, was arrested after the group were struck by a van near Finsbury Park Mosque in north London early on Monday.
The worshippers had been at a Muslim welfare centre as part of celebrations for the holy month of Ramadan.
Witnesses at the scene described it as a deliberate attack and senior officers said it was being treated as a “terrorist incident”.
Some said they heard the van driver, who was detained by members of the public at the scene, shout: “I’m going to kill Muslims.”
Police have been searching a residential address in Pentwyn, a suburb to the northeast of Cardiff, where Mr Osborne has been listed as living.
His neighbour Khadijeh Sherizi said she could not believe Mr Osborne was being investigated for carrying out an attack on Muslim worshippers.
“He has been so normal,” she said. “He was in his kitchen yesterday afternoon singing with his kids.
“He was the dad of the family. He has kids. He lives next door. He seemed polite and pleasant to me.
“I just can’t believe it.”
Theresa May visited Finsbury Park Mosque on Monday, which is close to the scene of the attack, and met with community and faith leaders.
Later, Scotland Yard Commissioner Cressida Dick joined a vigil outside the mosque.
Following a meeting with the chairman of the mosque, Mohammed Kozbar, Ms Dick stood with him during a short silence, before he addressed the large crowd.
Mr Kozbar said: “These people, these extremists, their aim is to divide our communities, is to spread hatred, fear and division among our communities.
“We all have harmony in this area, and these people try to divide us, but we tell them that we will not let you do that.”
Other faith leaders from the community also spoke at the vigil, including the Bishop of Stepney the Rt Rev Adrian Newman.
He told the crowd “an attack on one faith is an attack on us all”.
Rabbi Herschel Gluck said the incident was an attack on “every single Muslim in the UK and beyond”.
Ms Dick said earlier on Monday that the incident was quite clearly an attack on Muslims, but did not address the crowd at the vigil.
The Met Police said extra police patrols were being deployed to reassure the public and those observing Ramadan.
London Ambulance Service said it took nine people to hospital. Two others were treated for minor injuries at the scene.
Police said the attack happened while a man, who later died, was receiving first aid after being taken ill. The force has not made it clear whether there is any link between his death and the attack.
The welfare centre’s imam, Mohammed Mahmoud, was hailed for his efforts after he stopped a group attacking the suspect and helped detain him until police came.