Warning: This story contains disturbing details.
In the hours after his truck attacked a Muslim family in London, Ont., the accused killer told police his rage against minority groups began with an online investigation into politics and the election of Donald Trump as president. United States, and spiraled down a “rabbit hole” that led to an anger and rage that He could no longer ignore.
On Friday, at the end of the first week of proceedings, the jury in Nathaniel Veltman’s murder and terrorism trial in Ontario Superior Court in Windsor watched video footage of his statement to police just hours after the attack on the Afzaal family . Five family members were hit by the defendant’s truck while out for an afternoon walk on June 6, 2021.
“I admit it was terrorism. It was terrorism, I admit it. I’m not going to try to get a lighter sentence because it was just murder,” the defendant told the detective. Micah Bourdeau shortly after 2 a.m. ET, more than five hours after the attack, according to video evidence.
The 22-year-old 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.
“I was a ticking time bomb, ready to go off. I could only last so long before I did something,” he told Bourdeau.
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.
At the time of his arrest, the defendant was wearing a white T-shirt with a large black cross drawn or painted on the front and back. He told the detective it was a “meme or a joke” that “looked like a wrap shirt.” When the detective asked him to explain the joke, the defendant said, “Maybe later.”
The defendant’s thoughts before the attack.
The defendant told Bourdeau that he became interested in politics when he turned 18 and began after the 2016 presidential election.
“That’s when I realized that the media is very dishonest and from then on I went straight down the rabbit hole,” the defendant said. His “investigation” led him to stories about crimes committed against whites by minority groups he believed were covered up.
He described how he became obsessed with a debunked conspiracy theory involving Muslims and sexual assaults of young girls.
“Honestly, I would blame Western governments for what happened. You can say, ‘It’s your fault, Nate, you chose to commit violence.’ But they never gave me any choice… I feel sick to my stomach after what I did, but I don’t mind.” They leave another option.”
Before leaving his apartment that night, he looked up information about European white nationalists who had committed a crime against Muslims as “motivation,” he said.
“When people like me do something like this, it inspires other angry white men to do the same. I would never have done something like this if it weren’t for others who did similar things.”
Veltman said he blamed “Western governments” that have taken away his right to express his views against minorities and to protest peacefully, forcing him to commit acts of violence. “They do it so that there is no other result than violence,” he said in the interview captured on video.
The day before the attack, the defendant said, he was depressed and took psilocybin (a drug known as magic mushrooms), then felt unwell on Sunday but went to work at an egg farm in Strathroy anyway. On the way back to his house in central London, he passed a group of Muslims and decided it was time to act.
“I thought, ‘Maybe now is the time to send my message.'”
It was a message he had been planning for three months, the defendant told the detective. He also said that he was not affiliated with any particular far-right group and called his actions a “lone wolf attack.”
He said he knew members of the Azaal family were Muslims “because of their clothes.” He knew there were children among those he hit, but his attack “had to be brutal” to send a “strong message,” the defendant said.
That interview ends shortly before 4 a.m. so that the defendant can get some sleep and then have breakfast. It resumes shortly before 10 a.m., when the defendant appears more dazed and less willing to share information with Bourdeau.
“I think I’m in shock. I don’t know if I can explain it,” he said. “I’m trying to pull myself together. I’m not sure I can say much more than that right now.”
Veltman declined to tell the detective whether he purchased the van used in the attack specifically for that purpose, or why he went to Hyde Park in the area of the attack that night.
The agreed facts
Earlier in the trial, which began with jury selection last week and officially began Monday, the Crown and defense lawyers agreed to a series of facts that will not be discussed. They include that the accused drove the black Dodge Ram pickup truck toward the Afzaal family, striking all five members.
Data from the truck shows that it headed toward the family five seconds before impact and that its accelerator pedal was 100 percent compressed.
After the accident, he drove erratically towards Cherryhill Mall, where he stopped in the car park and approached a taxi driver who was waiting for calls, the court heard. Police arrested Veltman in the mall parking lot.
The trial, which is expected to last eight weeks, continues Monday.