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Student kills teacher with crossbow in Barcelona

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Student kills teacher with crossbow in Barcelona
Police officers stand guard outside Joan Fuster secondary school in Barcelona. Photo: Josep Lago/AFP
10:36 CEST+02:00
UPDATED: Police have detained a 13-year-old after a teacher was shot dead with a crossbow and several others injured in a Barcelona secondary school.
  • 13-year old student in police custody at Joan Fuster School in La Sagrera, Barcelona
  • Subsitute teacher shot dead with a crossbrow
  • Four others injured, including two teachers
  • Teachers' Union says this is the first ever case of pupil carrying out mortal attack on teacher in Spain
  • Attack carried out on 16th anniversary of Columbine High School massacre when 12 students and one teacher were killed
  • Pupil cannot be charged for attack as he is under the criminal age of responsibility in Spain

A teacher has been killed in an attack at Joan Fuster secondary school in the La Sagrera area of Barcelona. 

"A male teacher was killed shortly after 9am this morning at the Joan Fuster secondary school in Barcelona," a police spokesman told The Local.

The weapon used in the attack was widely reported to be a crossbow, but there was no official confirmation from police.

The male teacher, thought to have been working as a social sciences substitute, was killed after being shot with a crossbow by a 13-year-old pupil, who was also armed with a dagger, according to Spanish daily, La Vanguardia.

Four others, two pupils and two teachers, were also been injured in the attack.

The pupil has been detained by Catalan police and is being held within the school building. His motive is not yet known. 

A spokesman for the Mossos d'Esquadra, Catalonia's police force, told The Local that "the author of the crime is legally a minor as he is under 14-years-old which means that he cannot be charged. He will be assessed and be sent to a child detention unit or given psychiatric care."

She confirmed that four others had been injured. "Two female teachers and two pupils suffered injuries and three of them are recovering well in hospital," the spokesman for the Catalan police force told The Local.

"The other teacher, suffered very light injuries and was treated at the scene by emergency medics. Everyone is being offered counselling to deal with the shock."

Pupils have said that the student responsible was not known as a troublemaker.

But a report in the Vanguardia said he was obsessed with the military and had a collection of weapons at home. A fellow pupil told the Catalan newspaper that his classmate had said he wanted to kill all the teachers at the school and was known to draw up blacklists.

According to reports in Spanish media, the male pupil arrived late at school, at around 9.15am.

The teacher who was killed reportedly came running from the next door class room when he heard screams. 

Spanish media are reporting that the pupil fired at a female teacher who opened the door to him, as well as her daughter, who was one of his fellow pupils.

Hearing screams, a teacher from a neighbouring classroom came running to help and was fatally shot in the chest. 

The teacher "left to see what was happening and that was when the young man attacked him," one student, who requested anonymity, told AFP.

Moments later the suspect -- said to be aged under 14 -- went into the teacher's own classroom, attacked a girl and went back into the hallway with a knife in his hand.

Terrified students closed the classroom door and barricaded it with furniture.

Xavier Trias, the mayor of Barcelona tweeted a message expressing dismay over the tragic events at the Joan Fuster secondary school.

Attacks by pupils at schools are extremely rare in Spain, in fact the head of the teachers' union believes that it is the first documented case of a pupil killing a teacher in Spain.  

Nicolás Fernández, president of Spanish teachers' union Anpe, stressed that the case was "absolutely new in Spain" and "totally isolated".
 
"This has to push us to continue to work towards preventing and detecting violence in schools."
 
In 2012, a man was arrested for reportedly planning to plant bombs around a university in Palma de Mallorca. The man had written in an online blog and personal diary of his admiration for the 1999 Columbine killers in Colorado.
 
The Joan Fuster attack was carried out on the 16th anniversary of the massacre at Columbine High School in the US, when two students murdered 12 students and one teacher.

The attack on Monday morning also immediately sparked comparisons to the fictional story, We Need to Talk about Kevin, in which disfunctional teenager Kevin carried out a crossbow massacre at his high school gym.

The 2003 novel by Lionel Shriver was turned into a movie in 2011 starring Tilda Swinton.

The Spanish Civil Guard categorizes crossbows in the lowest classification of degree of danger and purpose of use, which can determine how the weapon is acquired and permitted.

Purchasing a crossbow in Spain entails having a Type E weapon license, which is valid for five years and requires the approval of government authorities, according to Spanish newspaper El Mundo.

El Mundo also reported that when buying a crossbow online, specialized websites warn the buyer that a weapons license is necessary, but do not require a copy of the license, only an identification card.

The Barcelona mayoral candidate for the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC), Alfred Bosch, has suspended his activities in light of the murder:

"Faced with a tragedy of this scale, all of today’s scheduled events have been suspended. The coalition of the ERC want to give our full support to the families and the school community," the party said in a statement.

Spain has had three previous well-known cases of crossbow attacks, according to El Pais.

In 2009, a German man who was reportedly mentally ill became obsessed with Spanish actress Sara Casanovas. The man found Casanovas at a Madrid theatre, fired the crossbow aimed at her, but she was able to dodge the shot and stage technicians restrained him until police arrived.

The Barcelona area was the site of a similar crossbow crime in 1994 when 20-year-old Andrés Rabadán, a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic, killed his own father before turning himself in.

In 1986, a man and his brother-in-law were charged for killing a man, who was allegedly extorting one of the perpetrators, by beating him with a baseball bat, stabbing him in the arm with a crossbow arrow and shooting him with a shotgun.

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