The father of a Vancouver police officer has been confirmed as the Canadian victim killed Thursday when a van plowed into crowds of tourists on a popular street in Barcelona,.
In a statement, VPD staff sergeant Fiona Wilson said her father, Ian Moore Wilson was a “compassionate, generous, adventurous, and always game for a lively debate, a good book, exploring new places, and a proper-sized pint.”
She said that in the midst of this tragedy, her dad would want the focus to be on extraordinary acts of human kindness his family had experiences during the past several days, including “unwavering love” from fellow officers, a man named Albert who rushed family members to the hospital following the attack and the people who assisted Ian in his final moments.
"My dad would want those around him to focus on the extraordinary acts of human kindness that our family has experienced…" pic.twitter.com/wbYLw9BJMd— Ashley Wadhwani (@ashwadhwani) August 19, 2017
“My dad’s passing leaves an immense void in our tight-knit family. He was desperately loved by us all and will be dearly missed,” she said.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed Friday that four other Canadians were injured in the attack, and offered his condolences to the family members and friends of those injured.
“We join Spain and countries around the world in grieving the senseless loss of so many innocent people,” he said in a statement.
“We must stand firm against the spread of hate and intolerance in all its forms. These violent acts that seek to divide us will only strengthen our resolve.”
The identity of the person killed was not immediately released, nor were any details about those who were injured or their current condition. Canadian officials say they are in touch with the affected families.
In total, 13 people were killed in Barcelona, while another died in a separate attack in the nearby resort town of Cambrils. As many as 100 were injured.
Spanish authorities said citizens from 34 different countries were among the dead and injured.
Canadian officials were still advising Canadians in Barcelona to avoid the Las Ramblas area and follow directions from local authorities.
Allan Gray was in a Barcelona restaurant with his family for barely a minute when they heard a loud crash and saw crowds of panicked people rushing to the back of the building.
Amid the commotion, the Mississauga, Ont., man ran with his wife and two daughters into an adjoining hotel where they huddled on an upper floor for the next five hours, flinching at the sound of gunshots and wondering whether movements in the stairwells were people trying to find safety or a potential terrorist about to launch another attack.
The Canadian family was among dozens who took cover in buildings along Barcelona’s popular Las Ramblas strip when the van came careening into a crowd on the promenade.
Gray, 50, said that the scariest part of the entire ordeal was not knowing what was going on.
“Everybody was panicking … we just didn’t know what was going to happen,” Gray told The Canadian Press in an interview Friday. “Every little movement, every little bang was just horrific”
People weren’t sure whether gunshots heard were coming inside the building, and were terrified that there might be a shooter in the hotel, Gray said.
His daughter, Daniela Gray, said that she was preparing for the worst
“For many hours we were terrified that there was someone inside or that there was going to be an explosion of some sort,” the 24-year-old said.
As the hours passed, the Gray family learned more about what was actually happening through social media.
At one point, Allan Gray said he looked outside the hotel’s window to see what was going on and got a view of the aftermath of the attack.
“There was a woman on the ground that was hurt, another person’s legs not moving, and a little boy who was lifeless on the ground,” he said. “It was horrific.”
The family of four took shelter in the hotel until a police officer escorted them out of the area to safety.
Gray said they’re still reeling from the events a day after the attack, and described an empty feeling to Barcelona’s previously jubilant streets.
“The party’s basically been shut down,” he said. “It just seemed quiet out there and in a sombre mood.”
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said Friday Canadian authorities always step up vigilance at home when an attack like this happens elsewhere.
“When an event like this occurs extra special attention is focused on it so Canadians can be assured that their police and their security services are taking every necessary step to keep Canadians safe,” he said, during an event in Regina.
Spanish authorities said the back-to-back vehicle attacks — as well as an explosion earlier this week in a house elsewhere in Catalonia — were related and the work of a large terrorist group.
— with files from the Associated Press
Mia Rabson and Salmaan Farooqui, The Canadian Press