Skip to main content

Toronto Police believe it was a friend of white supremacist leader Wolfgang Droege who shot and killed the Heritage Front founder outside his apartment.

Keith John DeRoux, 43, has been charged with second-degree murder in a case police say has no connection to Mr. Droege's extremist politics.

Detective Sergeant Peter Callaghan said Mr. DeRoux, who has a criminal record for assault, was described as a friend of Mr. Droege's.

"We have information that's been provided to us regarding the motive. We're still investigating all aspects of it, but the information we've received thus far leads us to believe it had nothing to do with the political activities of Mr. Droege," Det. Sgt. Callaghan said.

"We know that the accused had at one time been involved in a relationship [with a mutual acquaintance] We don't know at this time what role, if any, that played in the events yesterday afternoon."

He added that although Mr. Droege had a lengthy criminal history, including charges for cocaine trafficking and weapons possession, he had not been the subject of any recent police investigations.

"I think it had been quite some time since Mr. Droege had come to the attention of Toronto Police," Det. Sgt. Callaghan said.

Mr. Droege, 55, was killed Wednesday in the hallway of his apartment building. Police said several shots were fired near his second-floor unit just before 3 p.m.

Police could not say why Mr. Droege was wearing only his underwear when he died.

After a standoff in which a man barricaded himself in Mr. Droege's apartment, police were able to arrest Mr. DeRoux.

He made his first court appearance yesterday.

Paul Fromm, leader of the Canadian Association for Free Expression, knew Mr. Droege through their shared political interests and last sat down with him about a month ago.

"He never gave me the impression that he was looking over his shoulder," Mr. Fromm said. "He was in good spirits."

Mr. Fromm said he has no idea what could have led to Mr. Droege's killing.

"It was some sort of personal connection. But what this fellow Keith had against Wolfgang, I don't know," he said. "It was not even put to me that this was business. This was personal."

He said Mr. Droege was often in the company of different women, but never seemed to have a steady girlfriend. Mr. Fromm said he had drifted away from politics and spent the last decade concentrating on his business, although he couldn't say what that business was, and added that it was unlikely that he would have been involved in the drug trade because of his profile in the city.

"He certainly didn't seem to be poor," Mr. Fromm said. Mr. Droege was known to frequent Harbour Sixty, an upscale eatery where a main course sells for more than $40.

In 1981, Mr. Droege was convicted of plotting to overthrow the government of the Caribbean island of Dominica. He planned to use the island as a base for drug trafficking and then to use the funds to further white supremacist movements around the world.

In 1994, Mr. Droege's ambitions of creating a racist mass-movement in Canada were dealt a significant blow when it emerged that his right-hand man in the Heritage Front was in fact a Canadian Security Intelligence Service mole named Grant Bristow.

Michael Boudreau, a professor of criminology at St. Thomas University who studies hate groups, said Mr. Droege was finished politically after the Bristow affair.

"I think he felt betrayed by that," Prof. Boudreau said. "People questioned his leadership. How astute is Droege that he fell victim to a government spy?"

He added that Mr. Droege's death marks the end of an era for the extreme right.