A 21-year-old medical student has been arrested after confessing to the stabbing of five people on the streets of the Catalan city of Lleida on Monday.
Alejandro Ruiz, who is from Logroño, La Rioja, but studies at Lleida University, handed himself in to two police officers in the town at 8.15pm on Tuesday evening.
According to sources close to the investigation, Ruiz is thought to have returned to his student apartment after committing the attack, where he burned his clothes before leaving.
His parents reported him missing to police in Logroño on Tuesday morning after being unable to contact him. They had no suspicion that their son might have carried out the attacks: all they knew was that there had been five stabbings in Lleida, that there had been a fire in the apartment where their son was living, and that they could not get in touch with him.
Five people were injured after Ruiz allegedly stabbed a number of passers-by indiscriminately between 5.15pm and 6.15pm on Monday afternoon in Lleida, before running away from police. Dozens of patrol cars were sent out to catch the attacker as the city became a ghost town.
His parents reported him missing to police in Logroño on Tuesday morning after being unable to contact him
One of the victims was a 60-year-old man from Pakistan who was taken to the Arnau de Vilanova Hospital with a large knife sticking out of his back. The weapon is now in the hands of Catalan regional police who have taken fingerprints from it, while the man has been moved to the Vall d'Hebron Hospital in Barcelona given the severity of his injuries.
The other four victims were a 40-year-old woman of Moroccan origin, a South American man aged 26, a Chinese man aged 33, and a Spaniard from Lleida aged 40.
Investigation sources said Ruiz had a prior record of racist behavior after he was arrested for taking part in a knife fight with a Colombian youth in Logroño in December 2012.
Ruiz has been admitted to the psychiatric ward at the Arnau hospital under police custody after he was diagnosed as suffering from a psychotic episode.
Several of Ruiz’s medical faculty colleagues on Tuesday described him as someone who was not very sociable and did not stand out from the other students.
Regional police chief Josep Lluís Rossell had called a press conference on Monday to deny rumors circulating on the social networks that the attacks were related to radical Islamism. Interior Minister Jorge Fernández told the radio network SER that it was much more likely that the suspect was a mentally disturbed individual rather than a lone wolf.