London, Ontario, Canada
London, Ontario, CanadaiStock

Nathaniel Veltman, who killed four members of a Muslim family and injured a fifth in London, Ontario, committed an act of terrorism, an Ontario superior court justice concluded Thursday, according to Global News.

Justice Renee Pomerance went so far as to describe Veltman’s actions as a “textbook example” of a lone wolf terrorist act.

Veltman, 23, purposefully drove his truck into the Afzaal family on June 6, 2021. 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 attack, while the couple’s nine-year-old son was seriously hurt but survived.

The trial began in September in Windsor, Ontario, though sentencing submissions and Thursday’s decision have taken place in London. Veltman was found guilty on four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder in November, with jurors returning to a packed courtroom after less than six hours of deliberation.

The first-degree murder charges come with an automatic life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years, but the question of what role, if any, terrorism played in the attack played a central role in the sentencing decision.

In the end, Pomerance chose the harshest possible option by imposing a life sentence for the attempted murder charge and by concluding that Veltman’s actions amounted to terrorism, which will be factored into any parole decisions down the line. The sentences will be served concurrently.

Pomerance pointed to Veltman’s planning and deliberation in the months leading up to the attack, noting the purchase of a new truck and large grill guard and a piece of paper that listed vehicle speeds and the percentage likelihood of pedestrian deaths.

She added that when he saw the Afzaal family, whom he did not know, he believed they were Muslim because of their clothing and he drove into them at full speed without touching the brakes, according to Global News.

While the jury found Veltman guilty of first-degree murder, it did not disclose whether that decision was made by deciding the murders were planned and deliberate, that they were committed during the commission of a terrorist act, or both.

Instead, it was up to the judge to determine what role, if any, terrorism played.

“The evidence in this case does not logically permit a binary choice” between the two options, Pomerance explained, adding, “If there was a plan, it was to commit a terrorist activity. If there was a terrorist activity, it follows that it was planned and deliberate.”