After FBI investigated threats against Hamtramck mayor, man arrested in Vancouver homicide

Hamtramck Mayor Amer Ghalib said he and some City Council members received death threats from a man in Canada who was arrested a few days later in connection with a homicide in Vancouver.

The FBI helped Hamtramck police in identifying and locating the person accused of making the threats against Ghalib, FBI Detroit Special Agent Mara Schneider told the Free Press this week.

Ghalib said that during the last week of January, he received via Facebook threats from a man named Dwight Kematch, who wrote that he was going to kill Ghalib by shooting him at the next City Council meeting, set for Jan. 29. Some members of Hamtramck City Council received similar threats, he said.

"He specified the time and place, during City Council meetings, so I took it seriously and I reported it to the police," Ghalib told the Free Press. "I have been receiving many threats, but never took any of them as serious. He sent his threat to me through Facebook, then he immediately blocked me. That was another alarming and warning sign that made me act and report it to the police."

Hamtramck Mayor Amer Ghalib said he and members of city council recently received death threats.
Hamtramck Mayor Amer Ghalib said he and members of city council recently received death threats.

Three days after the threats, police in Vancouver arrested Kematch, 39, on Jan. 28 and later charged him with second-degree murder in the homicide of Alexander Lo, 31. Media outlets in Canada said it was the first homicide of the year in Vancouver.

Vancouver Police Constable Tania Visintin did not offer more details to the Free Press beyond the news releases issued by Vancouver police.

"Police investigated the death threat I received and they found that the guy who sent the threat message is in Canada at this time," Ghalib told the Free Press earlier this month.

Ghalib said FBI agents then later told him on Feb. 21 that police in Canada had arrested the same man, Kematch, who had been threatening him, in connection with the killing of Lo.

"Police coordinated with the FBI and the Canadian authorities and the guy was arrested," Ghalib said. "Unfortunately, he killed someone three days after sending his threat to me, and he was arrested after that. Our police and the FBI agents kept updating me on how are they handling this case. I do thank them and the Canadian authorities for everything they did to bring that suspect to justice."

Schneider of the FBI said, "We can confirm the FBI assisted Hamtramck Police Department to identify and locate the subject."

Ghalib is the first minority and first Muslim to lead Hamtramck, which has the highest percentage of immigrants among cities in Michigan. He said he has received other threats over the past couple of years, some of them including bigoted comments. At the Jan. 29 meeting, the City Council voted to approve the first minority police chief in Hamtramck. Ghalib said the threats were not related to the topic of that meeting.

"He did not mention anything related to police chief appointment," Ghalib said of the suspect. "It was just a general threat that I'll be shot in the city council meeting. I do not know what the motive is behind it."

Contact Niraj Warikoo: nwarikoo@freepress.com or Twitter @nwarikoo.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Man charged in Vancouver homicide after threats against Hamtramck mayor