Four members of a Canadian immigrant family were left dead and one hospitalised after Nathaniel Veltman, 20, allegedly crashed his vehicle into them deliberately as they took a walk.
A taxi driver was taking a coffee break when the suspect pulled up in his black truck and told him to call the police as he had just killed someone, Yellow Taxi London president Hassan Savehilaghi told The Free Press on the driver’s behalf.
The pickup driver was wearing what appeared to be a bullet-proof vest, a military-style helmet and clothing that possibly had swastikas on it, Mr Savehilaghi said the traumatised driver had told him.
The driver, who was even asked by the suspect to film his arrest, said that the front end of the truck had been “damaged with blood” and he immediately called the police.
The witness said that police units in London, Ontario, quickly arrived at the scene and removed the suspect from the truck.
“When they got him out of the vehicle, he was laughing,” added Mr Savehilaghi, who said that the driver has not returned to work after the incident.
The victims have been identified as Salman Afzal, 46; his wife Madiha, 44; their daughter Yumna, 15; and a 74-year-old grandmother whose name has not been made public.
The couple’s nine-year-old son, Fayez, remains in hospital.
Friends of the family say they emigrated to Canada 14 years ago from Pakistan.
The suspect has been charged with four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder.
A friend of the suspect told the newspaper that the 20-year-old had “never said anything hateful” about any groups before.
“He’s Christian and has a great relationship with God ... He was always pretty calm towards other people,” added the unnamed friend.
A co-worker told the newspaper that the suspect had been recently distressed by the death of a family member.
“He seemed broken up over it on Friday. That’s the last time I saw him,” the unidentified co-worker said.
Earlier Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau branded the incident a “terrorist attack” aimed at the Muslim community.
“This was a terrorist attack, motivated by hatred, in the heart of one of our communities,” he told the country’s Parliament.
“If anyone thinks racism and hatred don’t exist in this country, I want to say this: how do we explain such violence to a child in a hospital? How can we look families in the eye and say ‘Islamophobia isn’t real?’”
Join our commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies