WINDSOR, Ont. — Mere minutes after driving his truck into a Muslim family out for an evening stroll, Nathaniel Veltman sped into a parking lot, pulled up near a cab and asked the driver to call 911, saying he had intentionally struck several people, his trial heard Tuesday.
Veltman then got out of his vehicle to kneel on the ground and put his hands behind his head as police arrived, telling the cab driver to take a video of his arrest, jurors heard.
The details of what happened in the immediate aftermath of the June 6, 2021 attack in London, Ont., were laid out in court Tuesday as jurors saw video of Veltman's arrest, listened to the 911 call where he spoke to the operator and heard testimony from the cab driver.
"It was me. It was me that did it, so come and arrest me. It was me that crashed into them," the jury heard Veltman telling the 911 operator on the call that was placed on speaker phone.
"I did it on purpose."
Prosecutors have alleged Veltman carried out an act of terrorism when he deliberately hit five members of the Afzaal family with his truck while they were out for a walk. The 22-year-old Veltman has pleaded not guilty to four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder.
Salman Afzaal, 46, his 44-year-old wife Madiha Salman, their 15-year-old daughter Yumna and her 74-year-old grandmother, Talat Afzaal, were killed in the London attack. The couple's nine-year-old son was also seriously hurt but survived.
Jurors were shown video Tuesday of Veltman speeding his truck, seen with a heavily damaged front end, into an almost empty mall parking lot a few minutes after the attack and stopping next to a parked cab.
The video – extracted and edited from security camera footage from the mall – shows three police vehicles arriving about two minutes later, followed by more police vehicles minutes after that.
Veltman is seen leaving his truck and taking a few steps before kneeling down and putting his hands on his head as officers approach.
Taxi driver Azzeddin Jahanghiri testified that he saw Veltman pulling over behind his cab before Veltman asked him to call the police. Veltman was wearing a military-style helmet and a bulletproof vest and appeared calm, Jahanghiri said.
Veltman later asked the cab driver to take a video of him while he was getting arrested and asked him again to take a video of him after he was arrested, court heard.
"They took him to one cruiser, when he was walking by me, again, (Veltman) asked me, 'I told you to make a video,'" Jahanghiri said.
The cab driver also told the court he saw blood and body tissue on the front of the truck near the headlights.
Federal prosecutors are arguing that Veltman was motivated by white nationalist beliefs.
An agreed statement of facts presented to the jury has said Veltman was driving his truck north on Hyde Park Road in London when he saw the Afzaal family and made a U-turn to drive south towards them.
Two women in the Afzaal family were wearing traditional Pakistani clothes at the time of the attack. The statement said Talat Afzaal was wearing a dark green and mustard-coloured long shirt and Madiha Salman was wearing a bright pink patterned long shirt.
Veltman accelerated as he approached the family and data from his truck shows he steered to the right, aiming to hit the family just five seconds before striking them, the statement said.
"From five seconds before the impact through until point of impact, the brake pedal was never depressed," it said. "Veltman struck the victims with his truck and at least one family member was thrown high in the air."
Federal prosecutor Sarah Shaikh told jurors in her opening statement Monday that Veltman allegedly planned his attack for three months.
She said Veltman told detectives that his intentions were political, he'd left his home on the day of the attack looking for Muslims to kill and that he'd used a truck to send a message to others that vehicles can be used to attack Muslims.
Superior Court Justice Renee Pomerance has said the trial, which is taking place in Windsor, Ont., is expected to last about eight weeks. Pomerance ruled last year that a change of venue was warranted in the case, moving the trial from London to Windsor.
The attack on the Afzaal family sent waves of shock, grief and fear across Canada and spurred ongoing calls for measures to combat Islamophobia in the country.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 12, 2023.
Maan Alhmidi, The Canadian Press