Misc 19/11/2020

The Mossos who shot down the terrorist in Subirats feared he would cause an explosion

The two officers reconstruct Abouyaaqoub's shooting

Pau Esparch
3 min

BarcelonaOn 21 August 2017, the Mossos d'Esquadra released images of the perpetrator of the attack on the Rambla, Younes Abouyaaqoub, in an attempt to find him. Only a few hours later, at around 3pm, they received a warning that he had been seen in an industrial estate between Sant Sadurní d'Anoia and Subirats. A patrol of the Mossos of Vilafranca del Penedès stopped the car on the road that leads to Gelida, past a sewage treatment plant. The two agents continued the search on foot, along a path about three or four meters wide that went down. When they had advanced a few steps, they saw in the background, about 30 meters away, a person with a sky blue shirt, orange pants and sunglasses. "I radioed in to ask if the description matched. There was no time to wait for a reply," explained one of the Mossos at the trial on 17-A.

"He lifted his shirt and showed a belt of explosives on his abdomen. I observed three or four metal tubes and some wire. He ran towards us: "ʾAllahu ʾakbar, ʾAllahu ʾakbar(u.) I threw the radio to the ground, pulled out the regulation weapon and we started shouting: "Stop, get down! He was ignoring it. He was running with his left arm protecting himself like a shield and with the other hand pressing as if he were carrying something, we couldn't see if it was a detonator or a knife. He was doing that and, seeing that he wouldn't give up the attack, me and my partner started shooting. He kept running," the agent said. According to his account, with the first shots, Abouyaaqoub fell when he was about 10 metres away. "I changed the magazine because I didn't know how many bullets I had fired. He got back up. I fired two or three more times and he fell.

"I was on my knees. i kept pointing the gun in case he got up again. There was a silence. I was just waiting for him to drop the detonator, explode and die. I couldn't get up. Seconds went by, minutes. I don't know. I don't know. I heard colleagues calling. They told me to get out, stand back, and they took me away. I broke down, I was in shock," the mosso recalled. The other officer, who also testified as a witness, recalled that at first Abouyaaqoub came out of some bushes. He added: "When he falls for the first time, I don't have time to radio it in. He gets up, takes two or three more steps and I keep shooting until he finally falls again. At that moment the image of an imminent explosion comes to me. There was no way out. I could picture myself mutilated. I was aiming at the person on the ground, not looking away.

As a result, the two Mossos have been treated for post-traumatic stress disorder, which has prevented them from qualifying for specialisation within the body. "In everyday life I have had nightmares and insomnia. I have repeated this scene a thousand times," said one of them. Neither of them has been compensated.

"A defiant and smiling face"

This seventh session of the trial also heard the Mossos who were manning the checkpoint on Barcelona's Avinguda Diagonal on 17 August when Abouyaaqoub rammed them with a Ford Focus, after having killed Pau Pérez. The checkpoint, made up of five logotyped vehicles and one civilian vehicle, forced the cars to drive in a single lane. It was at 6.45pm, an hour and three quarters after the attack on the Rambla, that the terrorist left the lane and accelerated towards the police vehicles. The first officer dodged him and then shot the car, but the second officer and a sergeant did not have time to react. Abouyaaqoub broke through the checkpoint and fled at full speed. "He showed a defiant, smiling face," explained the Mossos who saw his face.

Despite the fact that two Mossos patrols tried to chase the car, they lost track of it because from the checkpoint - just between Barcelona and Esplugues de Llobregat - they could not see the the next stretch of road and missed Abouyaaqoub taking the first exit at Sant Just Desvern. The second officer and the sergeant who were injured have been recognised as victims of terrorism. The mosso that investigated the death of Pérez has also stated that no cameras were found on the route on foot from Abouyaaqoub between 6.21 p.m. and 6.34 p.m., when he is thought to have committed the murder in Zona Universitària. "[Pérez] was in the wrong place at the wrong time," the policeman said.

He added that the knife with which the terrorist killed Pérez was also not located and that he took the victim's mobile phone but did not use it. The car was found at 8 pm on 17 August parked in Sant Just and had two shots on the outside that had not crossed over into the vehicle from when the police checkpoint was rammed. Instead, two more shots fired at that time hit another car and one of the bullets ended up in a headrest.