Police credit social media for fast arrest of man accused of killing young stepson
Police say a man arrested in the death of his seven-year-old stepson in St. Catharines, Ont., and an attack on a bank employee in the city would not have been apprehended so quickly without people widely sharing his image on social media.
Justin Kuijer was arrested Tuesday afternoon in Kenora, Ont., ending a five-day search that began after Nathan Dumas was found in medical distress at his home last Friday. The seven-year-old died in hospital on Saturday.
A Canada-wide arrest warrant was issued Monday for the St. Catharines man on charges of second-degree murder in Nathan’s death and attempted murder in connection with the stabbing last Friday of a woman at a local RBC branch.
600K hits on social media
“I was shocked to learn that over the last five days we had over 600,000 hits on social media, including Facebook and Twitter on this case,” Jeff McGuire, chief of Niagara Regional Police Service, told reporters on Wednesday.
McGuire spent much of the news conference thanking the media and the public for sharing Kuijer’s image and the description of the van he was driving, a vehicle later located by police in a Walmart parking lot with Kuijers inside.
The arrest was made by police “without incident” in northwestern Ontario, nearly 2,000 kilometres from St. Catharines, acting on a tip from “a normal citizen” who was able to act on information shared across the country, McGuire said.
McGuire said Kuijer was arrested by the six uniformed Kenora police officers who responded to a 911 call from a member of the public. The arrest warrant had described Kuijer as armed and dangerous.
McGuire said Kuijer will be returned to the Niagara Region “in the days to come” and that both the victim of the stabbing and the boy’s mother were “elated” by the news of the arrest.
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The family has planned a funeral for this Friday, one week before what would have been the boy’s eighth birthday.
Neighbour Tammy Vanblaricum, who lives next door to the family, said Tuesday she is “so happy” that Kuijer was arrested.
“It’s a big relief for everybody, the family,” she said Tuesday evening. “Rest in peace, little one.”
Kevin Wilson lives on Ida Street, not far from the boy’s home on Queenston Street.
“It’s just so sad that this has hit very close to home, as I’m a father of five and I have seven grandchildren and it’s just very sad to see all the police around here in our community. Finally they caught the man,” Wilson said.
“I feel so blessed that they found him,” he added. “Hopefully he’s put away for a long long time.”