More than 12 hours after a Muslim family was hit by a truck in London, Ont., on June 6, 2021, their accused killer sat shaking in a police interrogation room and told a detective he had no particularly strong connections with anyone in your life.
Nathaniel Veltman’s murder and terrorism trial in Ontario Superior Court in Windsor is in its second week. On Monday, the jury watched police video of the defendant speaking to the London police detective. Micah Bourdeau the morning after the attack.
Bourdeau was on the witness stand Monday as the video played.
In the video, the defendant says, “I would say I didn’t feel like I had much to lose. If I had done it, I wouldn’t have done it because there would have been someone else, but I didn’t do it.” “I have a lot to lose.”
Veltman said he spent a lot of time on the Internet doing “research” into what he called media dishonesty and the role of Western governments in covering up crimes committed by minorities against whites. Even online, the defendant said, he did not interact with people who shared his views because he was worried about being placed on a government watch list.
“I was very paranoid about the feds,” he told the detective.
Veltman, 22, is charged with four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder, as well as associated terrorism charges. He has pleaded not guilty.
Yumnah Afzaal, 15, her parents, Madiha Salman, 44, and Salman Afzaal, 46, and family matriarch Talat Afzaal, 74, were killed. A child who was nine years old at the time survived.
Prosecutors allege they were targeted because they were wearing traditional Pakistani clothing and were Muslim.
Bourdeau had interviewed the defendant (the detective resisted when defense attorney Christopher Hicks suggested it was an interrogation) two separate times after the attack: for about two and a half hours until about 4 a.m., and again beginning at 9:30 am.
When asked why the interview was so urgent given that the defendant was in custody and his truck was insured, Bourdeau said it was impossible to know if Veltman had been working with anyone or what else the defendant might have been planning.
“Our city has never seen anything like this and I would dare say we didn’t know exactly what we were dealing with,” Bourdeau told Hicks during questioning. “We didn’t know what we didn’t know. We didn’t know if there was any further danger to the public, and the investigation team and I felt it was imperative to find out as soon as possible.”
Bourdeau denied Hicks’ suggestions that the late-night interview was an attempt to keep the defendant “as uncomfortable as possible: giving him [those in custody] “No food, no water, a bed of cement, keep them cold.”
“If he was exhausted or afraid, that was not my intention. I spoke to him then because I thought it was urgent to do so,” the detective testified.
He said he repeatedly asked the defendant if he needed anything to eat or drink, and during the second interview he brought him a blanket, which can be seen in the video of the interview played for the jury.
Being in police custody gave him an “enormous sense of relief,” the defendant told the detective.
“I moved on, it’s over. I’m going to go to jail now. It’s done. I feel relieved to have finally done it, to have moved on,” he said. “At first I felt bad, I always feel bad, because it wasn’t very pleasant, but the fact that I moved on was a relief. But still, it doesn’t seem real.”
Veltman confirmed to Bourdeau that the only friend he had was Muslim. That baffled the detective, who said he was confused about how he could be friends with a Muslim person and also set out to kill people who follow Islam.
“He is secular,” the accused explained about his friend. “And I doubt he wants anything to do with me now, but yeah, he’s probably the closest friend I’ve ever had. He technically comes from a Muslim family, but he’s not actually Muslim.”
T-shirt taken as evidence.
Last week the jury was shown police video of an interview conducted the night he was arrested. In it, the defendant appears confident and happy to talk about his motivations for killing the family, including revenge, and to send a warning to others who practice Islam.
In the second interview, around 10 a.m., he is cold and sits hunched over, often hugging himself. He tells the officer: “I feel like I’m having a dream.
“Look, I didn’t want to do this; I just felt like I had to do it,” he tells Bourdeau. “This was very, very, very unpleasant, but I felt like it was the only way to send the message I needed to send. I felt like I had no choice.”
Finally, the T-shirt he is wearing, which is white and spray painted with a large black cross, is taken as evidence. The defendant told the detective that the shirt was a joke and that it looked like a “crusader shirt.”
He also told Bourdeau that he made a point of flashing the “OK” sign with his hand when he was arrested, a benign symbol that in some circles has come to symbolize white power.
“He was a successful troll,” he explained. “Stupid liberals call everything racist every day, and people thought, ‘I bet we can make them think the OK symbol is racist,’ and it worked.”
He noted that he does not use the term white power because he does not want to “enslave black people,” but rather wants “ethnic autonomy” and “not to hand everything over to minorities.”
The defense’s cross-examination of Bourdeau is expected to continue Tuesday.