The 20-year-old man, charged with four counts of first-degree murder in a pickup attack on a Muslim family in Canada, was described by colleagues as a “nice guy” – and had no known links to hated groups.
Nathaniel Veltman is accused of killing 46-year-old Salman Afzaal, his wife Madiha, 44, their daughter Yumna, 15, and Afzaal’s 74-year-old mother – and injuring the couple’s 9-year-old son, Fayes.
The suspect worked part-time at Gray Ridge Egg Egg Farms, an egg packing facility in Stratroy, Ontario, CTV News reported.
In a statement, the company’s chief executive, William Gray, said management and employees were “shocked and saddened”
“We join our community in condemning this violent attack and expressing our sincere condolences to the family and the Muslim community,” Gray said in a statement.
Tina Perry, a former longtime colleague of Veltman’s, told CTV News that he is a kind person who cares about himself and has always been available to help when someone needs it.
“He’s always been a nice person,” she said. “I have never heard anything bad about him. I am very shaken by this. “
Arman Moradpuryan, another friend who worked with Veltman, called him a very devout Christian and said he was educated at home.
Moradpuryan added that Veltman had no problem with being Persian and raising a Muslim.
“He never condemned me,” he told the Associated Press. “He will give his shirt from his back to you.”
Veltman has not been charged with hate crime, but police are still considering additional charges.
“The charge of terrorism is certainly on the radar,” London, Ontario, police chief Stephen Williams told CTV News.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the incident “a terrorist attack motivated by hatred in the heart of one of our communities.”
“If anyone thinks that racism and hatred do not exist in this country, I want to say the following: How can we explain such violence to a child in a hospital? How can we look families in the eye and say “Islamophobia is not real”? “Trudeau told parliament.
Many Canadians enjoy evening walks to get fresh air after long days at home during a pandemic, he said.
“But unlike any other night, this family has never returned home,” he continued. “Their lives were taken in a cruel, cowardly and brazen act of violence. This murder was not accidental. … Canadians are outraged by what happened on Sunday. And many Canadian Muslims are afraid. “
Trudeau blamed the attack on rhetoric, misinformation and extremism online and in politics.
“They can be a seed that grows into an ugly, all-encompassing trend. And sometimes they lead to real violence, “he said.
Thousands mourned, including Trudeau and leaders of all political parties in Canada, attended a vigil Tuesday night at the mosque, which the family attended.
“There are no words to alleviate the grief of killing three generations in their neighborhood,” Trudeau told the crowd.
“There are no words that can remove the pain and, yes, the anger of this community. There are no words that can fix the future of that little boy whose future is taken away. But know this: You are not alone. “All Canadians mourn with you and stand with you,” he added.
Imam Abd Alfatah Tuakkal of the Muslim Mosque in London said he hoped the vigil would be key to fighting the scourge of racism and discrimination.
“Each of us must do our part,” he said.
With Post wires