LAFAYETTE (CBS SF & AP) — The father of a Bay Area man who was missing following the deadly rampage in Barcelona confirmed Friday his son had died in the terrorist attack.
Dan Tucker told KPIX 5 that his daughter-in-law Heidi Nunes had notified the family that her husband Jared’s body had been identified among the dead at a Barcelona morgue.
The Lafayette couple were in the Spanish city celebrating their one-year wedding anniversary when Thursday’s deadly attack began to unfold.
They were on the historic Las Ramblas promenade when Jared went into a restaurant to use the bathroom. A moment later, chaos unfolded and Nunes sought shelter in a kiosk.
When she emerged, she could not locate her husband.
The attack has left 13 people dead and 100 injured after a van roared down the promenade. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson confirmed at a news conference Friday that an American was among those killed.
“We got a text from her (Nunes),” Dan Tucker said. “It indicated that the conversation with the (Spanish) officials had more to do with identification than it did with health or possibly an injury. So we haven’t gotten anything absolutely confirmed but the general feeling is that Jared didn’t make it.”
Dan Tucker said family and friends were shocked to see someone on the news footage of the aftermath and victims that appeared to look like Jared.
“All day yesterday, from the time that it happened until this morning, we’ve been going back and forth but not knowing anything other than the fact that we saw a person on ground wearing the same color clothes that Jared wore that day. About the same size person (as Jared) but we couldn’t identify him. The general feeling of the people who know him well was that that was Jared.”
“He had some blood on the side of his head and on his arm, but there was a person kneeing with him so we were encouraged to think it was an injury and not anything serious. But he wasn’t moving.”
As the hours mounted, Dan Tucker said the family’s hopes began to fade.
“We held onto that until this morning,” he said. “This morning now, the fact that Heidi’s been called in on some kind of identification thing is pretty much an indication that Jared didn’t make it.”
Dan Tucker said the family was struggling with the realization that his son has died.
“It’s hard for us to understand,” he said. “It’s the first time he has even been in Europe. He’s at this Ramblas place at the wrong time. How could this happen? But it looks like it did.”
Spanish police have intensified a manhunt or suspects behind the two deadly vehicle attacks on civilians, shooting and killing five people wearing fake bomb belts who attacked a seaside resort and arresting four others believed linked to the carnage.
Spanish authorities said the back-to-back vehicle attacks Thursday afternoon and early Friday morning — as well as a deadly explosion earlier this week in a house elsewhere in Catalonia — were related and the work of a large terrorist group.
The Islamic State group quickly claimed responsibility for Europe’s latest bout of extremist violence, which left 13 dead and 100 wounded after a van roared down Barcelona’s historic Las Ramblas promenade on Thursday. Hours later, a blue Audi plowed into people in the popular seaside town of Cambrils, killing one person and injuring five others.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy declared Friday that the fight against terrorism was a global battle and Europe’s main problem.
Police said they arrested two more people Friday, after an initial two were arrested Thursday — three Moroccans and one Spaniard, none with terror records. At least three of them were nabbed in the northern town of Ripoll. Another arrest was made in Alcanar, south of Barcelona, where a gas explosion in a house Wednesday that killed one person was also being investigated as a focus of the probe.
“There could be more people in Ripoll connected to the group,” regional Interior Ministry chief Joaquim Forn told TV3 television, adding that police were centering the investigation on identifying the five dead attackers in Cambrils as well as the driver of the Barcelona van.
Forn told local radio RAC1 that the Cambrils and Barcelona attack “follows the same trail. There is a connection.”
“We are not talking about a group of one or two people, but rather a numerous group,” he told Onda Cero radio.
Amid heavy security, Barcelona tried to move forward Friday, with its iconic Las Ramblas promenade quietly reopening to the public and King Felipe VI and Rajoy joining thousands of residents and visitors in observing a minute of silence in the city’s main square.
“I am not afraid! I am not afraid!” the crowd chanted in Catalan.
But the dual attacks unnerved a country that hasn’t seen an Islamic extremist attack since 2004, when al-Qaida-inspired bombers killed 192 people in coordinated assaults on Madrid’s commuter trains. Unlike France, Britain, Sweden and Germany, Spain has largely been spared, thanks in part to a crackdown that has netted some 200 suspected jihadis in recent years.
Authorities were still reeling from the Barcelona van attack when police in the popular seaside town of Cambrils, 130 kilometers (80 miles) to the south, fatally shot five people near the town’s boardwalk who had plowed into tourists and locals with their car. Forn said the five were wearing fake bomb belts.
One woman died Friday from her injuries, Catalan police said. Five others were injured.
Cambrils Mayor Cami Mendoza said the town had taken precautions after the Barcelona attack, but that the suspects had focused their attack on the narrow path to the boardwalk, which is usually packed late into the evening.
“We were on a terrace, like many others,” said bystander Jose Antonio Saez. “We heard the crash and intense gun shots, then the dead bodies on the floor, shot by the police. They had what looked like explosive belts on.”
Others described scenes of panic, and found safety inside bars and restaurants until police had secured the area. Resident Markel Artabe was heading out to get an ice cream when he heard the shots.
“We began to run. We saw one person lying on the pavement with a shot in his head, then 20 to 30 meters farther on we saw two more people, who must have been terrorists as they had explosive belts around them. We were worried so we hid,” he said.
The Cambrils attack came hours after a white van veered onto Barcelona’s picturesque Las Ramblas promenade and mowed down pedestrians. That attack at the peak of Spain’s tourist season left victims sprawled across the street, spattered with blood and writhing in pain from broken limbs. Others were ushered inside shops by officers with their guns drawn or fled in panic, screaming and carrying young children in their arms.
“It was clearly a terror attack, intended to kill as many people as possible,” said Josep Lluis Trapero, a senior police official for Spain’s Catalonia region.
Forn also suggested a possible connection to an incident Thursday in which the driver of a Ford Focus plowed through a police checkpoint leaving Barcelona after the Las Ramblas attack, injuring two police officers. The driver was killed.
The Islamic State group said on its Aamaq news agency that the Barcelona attack was carried out by “soldiers of the Islamic State” in response to the extremist group’s calls for followers to target countries participating in the coalition trying to drive it from Syria and Iraq.
Islamic extremists have nearly systematically targeted Europe’s major tourist attractions in recent years. Rented or hijacked vehicles have formed the backbone of a strategy to target the West and most notably its cultural symbols. Barcelona’s Las Ramblas is one of the most popular attractions in a city that swarms with foreign tourists in August.
The dead and wounded hailed from 34 countries, and previous attacks — in Nice, Paris, Berlin and London — have had similarly international victims.
TM and © Copyright 2017 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten. The Associated Press contributed to this report.