News / Toronto

'We definitely considered leaving:' Torontonians in Barcelona react to attack

At least 13 people were killed and 100 injured as a van mowed down pedestrians in the popular tourist district of Las Ramblas.

Policemen accompany clients of a store outside a cordoned off area after a van ploughed into the crowd, killing 13 persons and injuring over 50 on the Rambla in Barcelona on August 17, 2017.

LLUIS GENE / AFP/Getty Images

Policemen accompany clients of a store outside a cordoned off area after a van ploughed into the crowd, killing 13 persons and injuring over 50 on the Rambla in Barcelona on August 17, 2017.

Torontonians living and travelling in Barcelona are struggling to reconcile the beauty of the city with the horror that took place on Thursday.

"Barcelona is paradise. I don't understand why this is happening," said Margot Frayne in a Facebook message.

At least 13 people were killed and 100 injured as a van mowed down pedestrians in the popular tourist district of Las Ramblas. Gunshots were also reported near the food market of La Boqueria.

Frayne has been living in Barcelona for the last nine months and had just flown out to Madrid on Wednesday night.

"I was there for five hours yesterday," she said. "In the Boqueria. All around Las Ramblas. I go there three times a week."

Frayne lives with her long-time friend from Toronto, Amanda Spadafora. She said Spadafora's boyfriend was working in the Boqueria at the time of the attack and was told to hide in the depths of the market. Metro was unable to reach Spadafora for comment.

"It's like someone driving a car (on the sidewalk) around the Rogers Centre," Frayne said.

She said everyone she knows is OK but fears the attack could change her day-to-day life in Barcelona.

"This sh-t happens all over the world," she said, "and the worst thing to do would be to let them win and make you afraid."

Caroline Deacon was napping in an Airbnb down the street from the attack. Deacon and her boyfriend, James Jenkinson, had flown in on a redeye flight and woke up to messages from concerned friends and family before they realized what had happened.

"We didn't feel safe to leave the apartment," Deacon said. "And we definitely considered leaving Barcelona altogether at first."

Deacon and Jenkinson plan to wait it out to see if they should head to Madrid earlier than they planned.

"It feels dangerous and so comfortable at the same time, like we just came out to find somewhere to eat and you almost wouldn't know this was happening," she said.

More on Metronews.ca