Berlin attack: Truck owner tells of slain driver’s unease

BERLIN, GERMANY - DECEMBER 20:  A policewoman places a candle on behalf of a mourner at a makeshift memorial the day after a truck drove into a crowded Christmas market in the city center on December 20, 2016 in Berlin, Germany. So far 12 people are confirmed dead and 45 injured. Authorities have confirmed they believe the incident was an attack and have arrested a Pakistani man who they believe was the driver of the truck and who had fled immediately after the attack. Among the dead are a Polish man who was found on the passenger seat of the truck. Police are investigating the possibility that the truck, which belongs to a Polish trucking company, was stolen yesterday morning.  (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

BERLIN, GERMANY - DECEMBER 20: A policewoman places a candle on behalf of a mourner at a makeshift memorial the day after a truck drove into a crowded Christmas market in the city center on December 20, 2016 in Berlin, Germany. So far 12 people are confirmed dead and 45 injured. Authorities have confirmed they believe the incident was an attack and have arrested a Pakistani man who they believe was the driver of the truck and who had fled immediately after the attack. Among the dead are a Polish man who was found on the passenger seat of the truck. Police are investigating the possibility that the truck, which belongs to a Polish trucking company, was stolen yesterday morning. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

The slain driver of a truck that was used to kill 12 people at the Berlin market had asked to finish his duties early so he could buy a Christmas gift for his wife, according to the owner of the trucking company.

Berlin police say that the Polish driver was not at the wheel during the attack and German Interior Minister Thomas De Maiziere said that the man appeared to have been shot dead.

Speaking to CNN affiliate TVN24, truck company owner Ariel Zurawski described the Polish driver, who has not yet been identified, as a “good man.”

Zurawski says pictures shown to him by the police to help identify the victim were “very terrifying.”

Based on the picture he had seen, he believes the driver, who was 1.8 meters tall and 120kg (240 pounds), may have tried to fight off the assailants.

‘Truck was driven back and forth’

Zurawski said they had spoken on the phone earlier Monday when the driver had requested to finish his duties early but also spoke of the driver’s apparent unease. He had described the area where he was going to unload as “weird.”

Zurawski said in the interview that the driver talked to his wife at 3 pm local time, but at 3:45 pm the truck’s GPS was showing that it was being driven back and forth with the engine being started and shut down again.

He said that in his opinion it looked like someone was learning how to drive the truck. According to Zurawski, it didn’t move again until 7:40 pm.

The company owner said that the truck had shown up in different parts of Berlin but knew that the driver — whose company nickname was “Inspector” — never wasted any time and always followed the rules.

He said he knew something terrible had happened to him when he saw the tragedy unfold in the market.