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Tributes paid to hero teacher slain at school

Jessica Jones · 21 Apr 2015, 12:28

Published: 21 Apr 2015 12:28 GMT+02:00

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Tributes are being paid to the hero teacher killed in Barcelona on Monday by a pupil armed with a crossbow, machete and molotov cocktail.

"Really nice", "good guy" and "lovely" was how pupils at Joan Fuster school were describing Abel Martínez, who had only been teaching at the secondary school as a substitute for a couple of weeks when, on Monday morning, he was killed by a 13-year-old pupil.

What we know about the crossbow killer

"Abel, thank you for this week and for your teaching...you protected us right up until the end. I will always remember your courage," read one poignant note left by a pupil outside the school gates.

Just after 9am on Monday morning, Martínez was teaching students about Spain’s Catholic monarchs when he heard screams coming from the classroom next door.  

It comes as no surprise to friends that he ran to help his colleague:

"His reaction was typical Abel," an unnamed friend told Catalan daily, La Vanguardia.

Rushing to help his injured colleague, Martínez was attacked by the pupil, who was carrying a modified crossbow and machete, according to reports. He died at the scene after being wounded in his stomach.

The 35-year-old history graduate had two great passions in life, other than teaching: comics and his beloved Barcelona FC.

"He was a passionate Barca follower," said one of his friends, "on match days there was nothing as important."

"He also loved comics, he fell in love with that whole world," the friend said.  

The teacher also loved swimming and was a regular at his local pool in Lleida.

Martínez worked as a substitute, teaching in schools around Catalonia, always on the lookout for that coveted permanent position, according to friends.   

He had recently confided in close friends that he was tired of trekking around Catalonia for work, but said it was what he had to do if he wanted to be a teacher.

Friends describe him as a dedicated teacher who spent hours planning classes, which often were not his specialism because he was a substitute:

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"He used to shut himself in his house preparing classes, he said it was like going back to starting university," one friend told La Vanguardia.

Originally from the city of Lleida, Martínez lived with his parents in an apartment in the Cappont area of the city.

He had previously worked in schools around the north-eastern region, including in the towns of Santpedor, Mollet dell Vallès and Sitges, never managing to find a position in his hometown.

The mayor of Lleida, Ángel Ros, visited the slain teacher’s family yesterday to offer his condolences and was greeted by Martínez’s older brother; his parents were too distraught to speak.

The city observed a minute’s silence at midday on Tuesday, in memory of Abel Martínez. 

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Jessica Jones (jessica.jones@thelocal.com)

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