Moner Mohammed Abu-Salha: Neighbors in Vero Beach react to news of suicide bomber

VERO BEACH – Mike and Rob Hill both said they were "shocked" Saturday to find out an American suicide bomber was their neighbor.

The brothers, who live practically across the street from each other in The Lakes at Sandridge, just learned this morning Moner Mohammed Abu-Salha was an American suicide bomber who blew up a truck he was driving in Syria last weekend.

Abu-Salha's family, who declined to comment, still lives in the residential gated community.

"They walk around the neighborhood," Mike Hill said. "They kind of keep to themselves, but they're very nice people."

Mike Hill, who has lived in the community since 2006, often would see Abu-Salha walking around the neighborhood, looking for basketball hoops to use, including one Hill had for several years at his house.

Hill described Abu-Salha as "polite" and said he never would've expected this from him.

"He was just a nice, friendly kid," Hill said.

Talking to his wife about the news, Hill said they couldn't imagine how Abu-Salha's family felt. He said the family usually would keep their garage door open and wave to neighbors – but it stayed shut Saturday.

"They've got to be heartbroken – I feel terrible for them," Hill said. "It's a nightmare for parents."

Although Mike Hill said he never had any problems with Abu-Salha or his family, brother Rob Hill didn't completely agree.

Rob Hill, who moved into the community two years after his brother, doesn't know the family at all because he works in Melbourne but previously had seen the kids "just picking up rocks and chucking them in the street," he said.

"Part of it was kids being kids – part of it was they just roam the neighborhood," Rob Hill said. "(Abu-Salha) was always out playing basketball or doing something, trying to find a pick-up game."

Other residents in the neighborhood also knew Abu-Salha's family, especially through their kids.

John Knudsen, who had lived there since 2006, said the family was "super nice" to his oldest daughter, who used to cut the family's lawn.

"I still can't believe it," Knudsen said. "This whole thing is crazy."​