A suspected Christian terrorist laughed when police dragged him out of a bloodied truck shortly after a Muslim family was mowed down, a witness says.
Nathaniel Veltman has been charged with four first degree murder charges in the deaths of Salman Afzaal, 46, his wife Madiha Salman, 44, their daughter Yumna, 15, and Mr Afzaal’s 74-year-old mother, Talat.
He is charged with the attempted murder of the couple’s nine-year-old son, Fayez, who survived the alleged hateful attack that killed three generations of the family.
A witness said the truck was parked behind his car and the driver was wearing a bulletproof vest, a military-style helmet and clothing with possibly swastikas.
The truck driver lit a cigarette and allegedly told the witness to call the police and said he had just killed someone.
The driver reportedly laughed when the police arrived, took him out of the truck and arrested him in a shopping mall parking lot.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the incident a terrorist attack, and police in London, Ontario believed the Muslim family had been targeted for their beliefs.
There is no connection between the family and Veltman, the 20-year-old suspect, the police said.
A taxi driver told how the suspect laughed and asked him to call the police.
His boss, Hassan Savehilaghi, spoke to him London Free Press on his behalf for being too traumatized to conduct an interview.
Mr. Savehilaghi said the driver of the truck, which was “damaged by blood”, wore what appeared to be a bulletproof vest and a military-style helmet.
His clothes might have had swastikas on them, he added.
Mr. Savehilaghi said, “When they got him out of the vehicle, he laughed.”
The suspect sang but his words weren’t clear, Savehilaghi told Reuters.
“He was enjoying the scene like it was important for him to be included,” said Savehilaghi.
The Afzaal family moved from Pakistan to Canada about 14 years ago, said friends who were destroyed on the ground.
They were walking and waiting to cross a street at a red light when they were hit.
Fayez, the only survivor, remained in the hospital with serious injuries.
Thousands of people attended a memorial service this week, with a funeral for the four victims on Saturday.
Neighbor Greg Tilford, who had seen the family outside their home before the attack, visited the crime scene where mourners left flowers and other tributes.
He told the London Free Press, “I just went there, sat on the floor and yelled. It is a loss that we lost this family.
“Salman was the epitome of gentleman and friendliness.”
Mr. Afzaal was a nursing home physiotherapist, Ms. Salman received her PhD in engineering, and her daughter Yumna was an honor roll student at a local high school.
The police are now investigating whether Veltman will be charged with terrorism.
Shocked friends described Veltman as a Christian who “has a great relationship with God”. Before the massacre on Sunday evening, he worked one shift in an egg packaging factory.
Two friends told the London Free Press that they had never heard Veltman say anything “hateful” about any group.
The police said earlier that he had no known connections to hate groups.
It was the worst attack on Canadian Muslims since a man shot and killed six members of a mosque in Quebec City in 2017.