The man accused of deliberately mowing down and killing four members of a Muslim family in London, Ont., demanded a cab driver call police to arrest him minutes after the attack, the head of a local taxi company said Wednesday.
Hasan Savehilaghi, president of Yellow London Taxi, said one the company's drivers was having a cigarette and a coffee next to his car in an empty strip mall parking lot on Sunday night when a black pickup truck came screeching to a halt directly behind his vehicle.
The man in the truck launched into a profanity-laced tirade directed at the taxi driver, said Savehilaghi, speaking on behalf of his employee who he said was badly shaken by what happened.
"He yelled at our colleague to call police because he had killed somebody," Savehilaghi said.
It was then that the cab driver noticed heavy damage to the front of the pickup truck, as well as the presence of a lot of blood, Savehilaghi said. The cab driver called 911 and, while on the line with the dispatcher, noticed a police car going by, Savehilaghi recounted.
The taxi driver immediately sprinted after the officer and told her what he had heard from the man in the truck, the company president said. The officer and a few others came over to the truck and took the man out of the vehicle, he said.
The man who was in the pickup truck wore a military helmet and what appeared to be an armoured vest, Savehilaghi said his employee recounted. Once police removed those items, the taxi driver "noticed swastika signs on the chest of (the man's) t-shirt," his employer said.
"He was laughing the entire time and he was chanting something," and asked the taxi driver to record the arrest and "make a movie of him," Savehilaghi said.
Police have described Sunday's attack as a targeted anti-Muslim hate crime.
Four of the family members who were struck — representing three generations — have died, while a nine-year-old boy remains in hospital.
Relatives have identified the deceased as 46-year-old Salman Afzaal, his 44-year-old wife Madiha Salman, their 15-year-old daughter Yumna Salman and her 74-year-old grandmother, who was not immediately named. The couple's son, Fayez, was seriously wounded but is expected to recover.
Nathaniel (Nate) Veltman, 20, of London is charged with four counts of first-degree murder and one of attempted murder.
The taxi driver who alerted police is also Muslim, Savehilaghi said, and is currently resting at home.
"I am proud of him, he kept calm and he was super smart to flag the police down while on the phone with 911," Savehilaghi said. "He didn’t panic and he did the right thing every step."