MALIBU (CBSLA.com) — Friends of the suspect in the Venice Boardwalk crash say they were stunned to learn of his involvement in Saturday’s rampage that killed an Italian tourist on her honeymoon and injured 16 others.
Nathan Louis Campbell, 38, has been charged with 16 counts of assault with a deadly weapon and 17 counts of hit-and-run. He was arrested Saturday night after he turned himself into authorities.
“I would have never thought of him to do something like that,” said Tim Mears, who frequented the Malibu Community Labor Exchange, a nonprofit organization that helps people find work. Campbell was also known as a regular patron.
Mears said Campbell seemed like a laid-back person, even letting him ride in his car to a nearby Ralph’s to pick up food and waiting to drive him back.
Gabriel Graham, who also knew Campbell through the Malibu nonprofit, said Campbell was “cool, calm, collected.”
Graham said he didn’t notice any strange behavior when he spent an evening out in Santa Monica with Campbell several days before his arrest.
“Nobody out here is obviously doing very great, or we wouldn’t be here,” said Graham. “But I know he had a nice car, it was fairly new, was making payments. Was struggling to make this month’s payment but said that he was going to be okay.”
According to Graham, Campbell was extremely proud of his 2008 Dodge Avenger. He said he never imagined the car would be used for such violence.
In the days leading up to the tragedy, Campbell was spotted sleeping in the car in the park across the street from the nonprofit.
“I seen the trunk pop and then a guy climbed out of the trunk,” said Mears, who said he saw Campbell emerge from the car’s trunk on Saturday. “I was like ‘wow’. That was very strange to me.”
Later that day, Campbell is accused of purposely driving his Dodge Avenger onto the popular tourist hub at speeds of more than 50 mph.
Campbell, who is being held on $1.48 million bail, has an arrest record that includes offenses in four different states since 2002.