The alleged driver who mowed down an entire Muslim family, in what Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called a Christian "terrorist attack" was reportedly laughing as he got out of his blood covered truck, according to a witness. Nathaniel Veltman, 20, continued to laugh as he got down from his truck till he was into custody in a mall parking lot, a traumatized taxi driver who witnessed the arrest told his boss.
Four members of a Canadian immigrant family were left dead and one hospitalized after Veltman allegedly crashed his vehicle into them deliberately as they took a walk on Wednesday. Veltman was also reportedly wearing body armor when he got down from his pickup truck.
The taxi driver, who was a witness to the horrifying murders, said he was on a break around 9 pm on Sunday when he noticed a bloodied vehicle. The pickup truck pulled up behind him outside the Cherryhill Village Mall, the London Free Press of Canada reported.
Veltman then emerged from his vehicle and was laughing as he approached the cabbie and told him to call the police since he had just killed someone, Yellow Taxi London president Hassan Savehilaghi told the outlet on the taxi driver's behalf.
"It was damaged with blood," Savehilaghi said of the pickup's front end, adding that his driver thought the vehicle was involved in a hit-and-run and called 911. Veltman was wearing what appeared to be a bulletproof vest, a military-style helmet and clothing that perhaps was covered with swastikas, Savehilaghi said the cabbie told him.
However, that's not where Veltman stopped. He then asked the cab driver to film his arrest once the police arrived. The confused and shocked driver without delaying called 911, anticipating that something was wrong.
Almost Like a Terrorist
The witness said that police units in London, Ontario, quickly arrived at the scene and removed the suspect from the truck. Police later confirmed that the driver, Veltman was actually wearing a body armor-style vest. However, it is could not be confirmed if he was also wearing anything with swastikas, the Free Press reported.
"When they got him out of the vehicle, he was laughing," Savehilaghi said. Although Velthman asked the driver to record his arrest, he didn't. Savehilaghi also revealed that since the incident, the driver has gone on leave and hasn't yet returned to work.
"He's really traumatized. It is terrifying. You're all by yourself," Savehilaghi told the outlet.
In fact, Veltman continued laughing till he was taken into custody and put inside the police vehicle. He has been charged with four counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Salman Afzaal, 46, his wife, Madiha, 44, their daughter, Yumna, 15, and Afzaal's 74-year-old mother.
The couple's nine-year-old son, Fayez, remains in hospital. The family immigrated to Canada 14 years ago from Pakistan.
That said, Veltman was a part-time egg-packing facility employee and has been described by co-workers as a "nice guy." He also has no known ties to hate groups — and a friend insisted he is not an Islamophobe.
Hence if he has swastika symbols inside his truck is still unknown. Also, police is puzzled why he took such a step. "Nate is not a radical terrorist. He is nothing like that. He is not an Islamophobe. That's not who this kid is," the friend, who hails from the Middle East, told the outlet.
Another friend who is also a co-worker told the outlet that three days before the attack, Veltman was having trouble with his new truck's steering. "I actually drove with him on Thursday," he said, adding that on Friday, Veltman asked him to finish his work for him because a family member had died.
Gray Ridge Egg Farms in Strathroy later confirmed to The Free Press that Veltman worked there part time.
"The management and staff of Gray Ridge Eggs were shocked and saddened to learn late Monday afternoon that Nathaniel Veltman . . . has been arrested and charged with four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder," chief executive William Gray said in a written statement.