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St. Catharines man wanted for first degree murder of stepson

Last Updated Mar 20, 2017 at 10:18 am EST

Justin Kuijer is wanted in connection with a stabbing at a bank in St. Catharines on March 17, 2017. He is also linked to the death of his stepson. HANDOUT/Niagara Regional Police Service

Police in southern Ontario say they’re continuing the search for a man accused of killing his seven-year-old stepson.

Niagara regional police Const. Phil Gavin says a Canada-wide warrant will be issued later Monday for 43-year-old Justin Kuijer of St. Catharines.

Kuijer is accused in the death of Nathan Dumas, who was rushed to hospital with undisclosed injuries on Friday and died the next day.

Gavin says Kuijer will be sought for a charge of first-degree murder and attempted murder after an alleged stabbing at a local RBC branch.

Gavin alleges Kuijer attacked a woman at the bank that he knew in a professional capacity, but would not offer comment as to motive.

Police say Kuijer is armed and dangerous and are urging the public to reach out if they have any information on his whereabouts.

Gavin said search efforts have expanded beyond the St. Catharines area, but conceded police had little information to work with.

“We are checking out some locations outside of the region that he’s familiar with, but in terms of where he’d be going, the fact is we don’t know where he is or where he might be going,” Gavin said during a Monday morning news conference.

Gavin said Nathan’s death has been a blow to the community in the heart of Ontario’s wine country, adding his mother has been trying to come to terms with not only the loss of her son but the scope of Kuijer’s alleged actions.

“She’s in a position where she’s trying to help us and support us in our efforts to locate him, and she’s also grieving in a terribly tragic situation the loss of a son in a way that few people could really understand or comprehend,” he said. “It’s a terrible situation for her.”

The community has rallied around the mother, Gavin said and a crowdsourced effort to raise funds for Nathan’s funeral has already reached its goal.

Friends of the boy’s family started a GoFundMe campaign that had netted nearly $12,000 by Monday morning, eclipsing the original target of $10,000.

The page suggests Nathan died just a week shy of his eighth birthday, adding his mother and two younger siblings are struggling with the loss. The two younger siblings are Kuijer’s biological children, a resident told CityNews.

“Nathan’s precious life was abruptly cut short at the hand of someone else,” the page reads. “… Nathan was an energetic, loving and caring little boy who will never have his first girlfriend, graduate school or get married and have children. Nathan would have made a big difference in this cruel world.”

Kuijer was last seen wearing an orange hoodie under a brown leather coat, dark pants, a black toque, and boots, police said.

He was last believed to be driving a dark grey van with Ontario licence plate number BYTE392.

The van featured a prominent pink floral decal on the back window referencing missing person Ashley Simpson and “Missing Women of Canada,” but Gavin speculated that the sticker might have been removed

Police called the suspect armed and dangerous. They said if members of the public see him, they should not approach him and call 911 immediately.