Hours after his arrest, the man accused of killing four members of a Muslim family told police he hesitated before carrying out his attack but decided to get it "over with," hoping to inspire other young, white men to target Muslims, his trial heard Friday.
Nathaniel Veltman has been charged with four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder for hitting five members of the Afzaal family with his truck while they were out for a walk in London, Ont. Prosecutors have alleged his actions in June 2021 amount to an act of terrorism.
Jurors at his trial watched a video Friday of his statements to police after his arrest.
Veltman – who has pleaded not guilty – is seen telling London police detective Micah Bourdeau that he carried out his attack with a vehicle so that other white men who share his views could see it was possible to kill Muslims even without access to guns.
He further told police that he was compelled to commit violence against Muslims because he felt he would be called a racist and ostracized if he expressed his views about Muslims and other minorities through non-violent means.
"This was not a psychopathic desire to kill people. This was politically motivated 100 per cent," he is seen telling the detective in the video.
"I admit that it was terrorism."
Veltman, 22, told police that he had been spending more time online and was isolated because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The accused said he had been watching videos online of attacks on mosques and synagogues. He listed the 2019 mass shooting in New Zealand, which saw 51 Muslim worshippers slaughtered, as a source of inspiration. Another was the Quebec City mosque shooting in 2017, Veltman told police.
Veltman told police he was against Muslims because he did not believe in multiculturalism, was against mass immigration and did not believe cultures could co-exist.
At several points in the video, the detective is heard explaining to Veltman that he has a right to remain silent and speak to a lawyer. Veltman told the detective that he was aware of his rights and may choose to speak to a lawyer "later."
Veltman told the detective he started planning his attack in March 2021.
He said he had placed a pellet gun, a machete and two knives in his truck to defend himself in case his vehicle rolled over after his planned attack and people started attacking him.
He also said he wore a bulletproof vest and a military helmet at the time to give himself a better chance of survival if police started shooting at him.
Salman Afzaal, 46, his 44-year-old wife Madiha Salman, their 15-year-old daughter Yumna and her 74-year-old grandmother, Talat Afzaal, were killed in the London attack. The couple's nine-year-old son was also seriously hurt but survived.
On the day of the attack, the then 20-year-old Veltman said he saw Muslim people walking on the side of the street when he was driving home from work. The accused worked part time at an egg farm in nearby Strathroy, Ont.
He told police that after getting home he began pacing around his apartment, thinking about whether to go back out to carry out the attack he had planned.
Eventually, he left his apartment, got in his black pickup truck and started driving around looking for Muslims to hit, he told police.
The jury has heard that on the day of the attack two female members of the Afzaal family were wearing traditional Pakistani clothes.
"It was the clothes," Veltman is heard telling police in the video, confirming that he identified the family members as Muslims based on what they wearing.
"I was aiming for the parents but I know there was going to be collateral damage, and I didn't care because I think it had to be brutal," Veltman told the detective when asked if he had known he had targeted children.
Veltman said he felt "sick" to his stomach for brief moments during the attack but he was "relieved" after running over the family.
"I kept thinking about doing it, thinking and thinking, but I kept hesitating, hesitating so much," he said. "Finally, I was like ... let's get this over with."
Prosecutors have alleged Veltman was motivated by white nationalist beliefs.
Veltman – who is seen wearing a white T-shirt with what appears to be a hand-painted black cross on the front and back – is heard telling police that he hoped to motivate others like him with the attack.
"There are a lot of people, especially in these COVID days, especially young, white men, (who) are getting really pissed off," he told police.
"They will see what I did and they will be inspired by me."
Crown lawyer Sarah Shaikh told jurors in her opening statement earlier this week that Veltman told detectives that his intentions were political, he'd left his home on the day of the attack looking for Muslims to kill and that he'd used a truck to send a message to others that vehicles can be used to attack Muslims.
The trial, which is taking place in Windsor, Ont., is expected to last eight weeks.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 15, 2023.
Maan Alhmidi, The Canadian Press