The Catalan regional police, the Mossos d’Esquadra, were last night looking for a man suspected of shooting at two other men in the center of Barcelona, just feet from the bustling Rambla thoroughfare, an important tourist attraction in the city.
The early theories being considered by the police include the possibility that the three men involved in the incident knew each other.
The injured men were waiting at the doors of a hotel when they were shot at by the attacker
The injured men were waiting at the doors of a hotel when they were shot at by the attacker. Investigators believe that the incident could have been a settling of scores.
The shooting took place shortly after 3pm, and just 100 meters from La Rambla. In front of the Silken Hotel, two men – one of whom was a Dutch national, carrying a fake Belgian passport, and the other English – were supposedly waiting for a third person. They had been there for several minutes.
A Norwegian tourist, who was having lunch on a terrace bar in front of the hotel, was surprised to see a man approach them wearing long trousers and a black sweater – the temperature at the time was 30°C.
The witness later explained that the individual didn’t say a word to the two men, but rather started shooting at them and then turned around and ran off the way he had come, toward La Rambla.
A Norwegian tourist was surprised to see a man approach them wearing long trousers and a black sweater
The Norwegian tourist, along with other passers-by in the area, got down on the floor in a bid to protect himself from further shots. The attacker, who a number of witnesses claimed was wearing a hood or a green balaclava, disappeared among the crowds, and fired no further shots.
“At first I thought they were fireworks,” explained Àngels, the owner of a nearby store, who only heard the firing.
According to sources from the investigation, the attacker fired two or three shots, one of which struck the Dutch man in the stomach. Another bullet destroyed the glass door at the entrance to the hotel.
The two victims ran from the scene after the attack, with the English man smashing through the glass door of the hotel. As a result, he ended up with cuts on his hand, chest and ribcage. The Dutch man followed his colleague, while tightly clasping his bleeding wound.
The two injured men ran through the hotel, shouting and trying to evade their attacker. They were unaware that the man who had fired the shots had already disappeared into the crowd in the opposite direction.
The attacker fired two or three shots, one of which struck the Dutch man in the stomach. Another bullet destroyed the glass door at the entrance to the hotel
The pair managed to get out through the emergency exit that led out on to Carme street, which runs parallel to the entrance of the hotel. The Dutch man took refuge in a souvenir store, where the owner, a young Chinese man, emerged from the bathroom to see the victim bleeding and vomiting on the floor. He tried to stop the bleeding and called the police.
The English man, who had been injured by the glass, stopped in a doorway for a few seconds before fleeing down Jerusalén street.
The municipal police quickly located the wounded men. The shooting victim was taking to a nearby hospital, while his colleague was treated at a local health center.
The Mossos have opened an investigation in a bid to locate the suspect. They have already interviewed the two victims, and have requested access to the security camera footage from a number of businesses close to where the shooting happened.
English version by Simon Hunter.