As the third day of his murder trial commenced, Nathaniel Veltman, a 22-year-old man, faced gruelling cross-examination. The proceedings unfolded in Windsor, Ont., where Veltman has repeatedly declared his innocence, pleading not guilty to four charges of first-degree murder motivated by terrorism, aside from one count of attempted murder with the same charge.
When the trial began, Veltman conceded to one crucial fact: it was his hand on the wheel on the grim day of June 6, 2021, when the Afzaal family was brutally assaulted by his pickup truck in London, an act that took four lives and left another person critically injured.
In a chilling confession, Veltman recounted how on the preceding evening, he had driven to Toronto. He candidly admitted considering the city for a future attack due to its high Muslim population. The venture, unknown to many in the city at that time, was merely a scouting mission aided by Veltman’s bulletproof vest and tactical helmet, worn with a twisted sense of comfort and amusement. Lost amid scattered thoughts in an unfamiliar landscape, Veltman admitted to finding himself conjuring disturbing visions and urges to harm Muslims in his path.
As his testimony extended to cover darker recesses of his psyche, Veltman’s narrative started to take an ominous turn. He described a fearsome encounter with magic mushrooms, also known as psilocybin, which led to a chain of events that brought him to the climactic act of violence. His grandmother’s death seemed to push him further into the abyss, consuming more drugs and tuning ever deeper into far-right extremist content on the internet. This toxic mix of sorrow, rage, and extremism, turning him into a ticking time bomb.
Upon his abrupt departure from Toronto, consumed by repulsion and guilt at his own actions, he journeyed back to London under the cover of nightfall, surreptitiously discarding his waste and optionally destroying his electronic devices in a hopeless bid to disconnect himself from the online world. Unfortunately, resistance was futile.
On June 6, 2021, after a restless stint asleep, Veltman showed up at his workplace, an egg processing plant in Strathroy, Ont. His agitation and frustration grew and spilled uninhibitedly into his work life. By the evening, the boundaries blurring between his destructive impulses and reality led him back to his online refuge and his demonic fantasies. Donning the sinister garb, the white t-shirt laced with a painted black cross, and armed with a weapons bag, Veltman got behind the steering once more, fatefully stumbling upon his potential victims.
At this phase in his account, his defense counsel, Christopher Hicks, chose to adjourn the trial till the Tuesday morning, pushing further the unfoldment of this disturbing sequence of events.