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The man accused of plowing his pickup truck into a Muslim family in what Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called a “terrorist attack” was reportedly wearing body armor and laughed as police arrested him.
A taxi driver who witnessed Nathaniel Veltman’s arrest after the horrific attack said he was on a break about 9 p.m. Sunday when he noticed a bloodied vehicle pull up behind him outside the Cherryhill Village Mall, the London Free Press of Canada reported.
The pickup driver allegedly told the cabbie to call the cops, saying he’d just killed someone.
Yellow Taxi London president Hassan Savehilaghi spoke to the news outlet for the cabbie, who was too distraught to discuss the incident publicly.
“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.
The alleged attacker 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.
Police have confirmed the driver was wearing a body armor-style vest, but a spokesperson declined to say whether he also was wearing anything with swastikas, the Free Press reported.
“When they got him out of the vehicle, he was laughing,” Savehilaghi said, adding that Veltman allegedly asked the cabbie to record his arrest.
“He’s really traumatized. It is terrifying. You’re all by yourself,” Savehilaghi told the Free Press.
Veltman, 20, 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 9-year-old son, Fayez, was injured in the carnage.
The suspect, a part-time egg-packing facility employee, was 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.
“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 London Free Press of Canada.
The friend, who wished to remain anonymous, added that he never heard Veltman say a bad thing about the Middle East or Muslims.
“Nate was a very close friend and never said anything bad to me,” he said.
Another friend told the Free Press that Veltman “never said anything hateful” about any groups.
“He’s Christian and has a great relationship with God. … He was always pretty calm towards other people,” said the man, who also wished not to be named.
One of the two friends, who also is a co-worker, said 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.
The Free Press cited an obituary from a funeral home that confirmed the death Friday of a 101-year-old woman who had several descendants named Veltman.
The obit suggests Nathaniel Veltman was one of 21 great-grandchildren.
“He seemed broken up over it on Friday. That’s the last time I saw him,” the friend said.
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