Man sought in hate-motivated arson likely fled Canada: London, Ont. police

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Police in London, Ont., have identified a 55-year-old man in connection with a porch arson that’s being investigated as hate-motivated — the latest in an escalating series of incidents targeting the home — but investigators believe the suspect has left the country.

A man arrived at the house on Wateroak Drive on foot at around 9:30 p.m. on June 8 and left “with some items he took from the front yard,” police said last week. About an hour later, police believe the same man returned and started a fire on the porch before taking off.

Emergency services arrived about 10 minutes later to extinguish the fire. No injuries were reported but the damage is estimated at $30,000.

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On June 14, police announced that a suspect has been identified and charged by way of warrant with arson with disregard for human life, mischief, uttering threats, criminal harassment, disguise with intent, theft and trespassing at night.

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However, investigators also “believe that the accused has left the country.”

The porch arson followed roughly a month of escalating incidents targeting the home, police said last week, including the theft of signs and a threatening note that was left at the home. Detective Inspector Alex Krygsman had said the signs expressed “support for Palestine.” Nawaz Tahir, a local lawyer and board member for the Muslim advocacy group Hikma, said Our London Family signs were also taken.

The Our London Family movement was created in support of the Afzaal family and London’s Muslim community in the wake of the June 2021 terrorist attack, which saw a young man intentionally run down a family in his truck, seriously injuring a little boy and killing his parents, sister and grandmother.

Tahir also suggested the family was “warned to not put more (signs) up.”

In announcing the charges, Krygsman also thanked the community for its patience and assistance in the case.

“Our investigative team has worked tirelessly to identify a suspect and ensure that the appropriate charges are laid. Although charges have been laid, this investigation continues to be active and ongoing, and will remain so until the accused is brought into custody.”

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