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Aaron Driver’s father remembers son’s grief-stricken childhood, says ‘worst fears’ came true

Click to play video: '‘There was that fear, what if he went down the dark side?’: Aaron Driver’s father' ‘There was that fear, what if he went down the dark side?’: Aaron Driver’s father
WATCH ABOVE: Aaron Driver's father, Wayne, sat down with Global's Tom Vernon to talk about his son – Aug 11, 2016

The father of Aaron Driver, the terrorism suspect killed in a confrontation with police on Wednesday in the small southern Ontario town of Strathroy, remembered his son as a normal, happy child until his mother died of brain cancer.

 

WATCH: Aaron Driver’s father shares his son’s story. Sarah Kraus reports.

Click to play video: 'Aaron Driver’s father shares his son’s story' Aaron Driver’s father shares his son’s story
Aaron Driver’s father shares his son’s story – Aug 12, 2016

“Aaron was a happy-go-lucky seven-year old,” Wayne Driver told Global News Thursday. “We played together, we went on play dates to the beach, the typical things a family does. And then his mother got sick.

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“He was seven years old at that time and that’s kind of when the lights went out.”

Aaron Driver as a child with his father, Wayne. Provided by Wayne Driver
Driver said Aaron never went through the grieving process and became angry, “saying he wished it was me [who died] instead of her.”

He said Aaron lived with him until he remarried, then bounced around between his sister, brother, back to his father, a halfway house for boys and child services. He returned to live with his father at 21.

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“[Aaron] was constantly running away,” Driver said. “He was doing drugs. He was skipping school a lot, wouldn’t do his homework, wouldn’t go for grief counselling.”

Watch below: Global’s ongoing coverage of the case

But Driver said that all turned around when Aaron converted to Islam.

“We were happy for him because it had changed his life. He had stopped drinking, stopped getting in trouble, stopped doing drugs. He went back to school to get his Grade 12. He was working part time. It seemed like his life was back on the straight and narrow. But it went from one extreme to the next.”
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Driver found out about the extremism in January 2015, when the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) contacted him to describe his son’s tweets and Facebook messages, telling him they were afraid he was “being radicalized.” Driver said he could only get through about 10 pages of an “inch-thick file” because they were so against his personal beliefs.

READ MORE: How was Aaron Driver able to plan out a terrorist attack while under a peace bond?

He said he tried to talk with his son, who would sometimes laugh, shrug it off, or tell his father to mind his own business since he “wasn’t hurting anybody.”

“He was still respectful through it all,” Driver said. “He continued going to the mosque religiously. He was doing his prayers, he followed Ramadan.”

Driver said when he moved from Winnipeg to Cold Lake, Alta. Aaron decided not to move with him and moved out on his own. He said the last time he spoke with his son was a phone call about a month ago.

“I was still trying to reach out to him. It started with a casual conversation, ‘how are you doing?’ And he says, ‘I don’t want to talk to you.’ And he hung up the phone.”

Driver’s daughter called him from Strathroy in tears Wednesday night, telling him what had happened and that his son was dead. He said if she’d seen anything like this coming, she would have protected her four children and notified police.

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READ MORE: Aaron Driver – Canada won’t be lucky forever, terror experts warn

Driver said the only thing the RCMP have told him is what happened at the scene and that his son had detonated an explosive device, severely injuring himself and someone else.

“There’s something in the back of your mind, of course, it’s something you don’t want to think about that your child is up to. But there was that fear that: what if he went down the dark side? And then yesterday our worst fears became reality.”

READ MORE: Aaron Driver timeline – Police intercepted terror suspect in a cab heading to London, Ont.

Driver said he’s trying to cope with the situation as best he can, relying on his faith to get him through.

“I find the more I talk about it, I try to remember the loving child that I knew. It helps get you through it,” he said.

“We never gave up on him. Had I already said goodbye? Not really, no. I guess I have to now.”

READ MORE: ‘He was not a violent person’ – Aaron Driver’s former lawyer on suspected terrorist threat

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