Spanish Police Stop Gas Truck Speeding Against Traffic

By The Associated Press
The Associated Press
The Associated Press
February 21, 2017 Updated: February 21, 2017

MADRID—Police in Barcelona fired gunshots Tuesday to stop a man who stole a butane gas truck and drove it at high speed against traffic on a city highway, ramming several cars along the way, a police spokeswoman said. Authorities ruled out terrorism as a motive.

Spain’s interior minister, Juan Ignacio Zoido, said in a tweet that the man, a Swedish citizen, has a history of psychiatric conditions and added that “it has not been any terrorist act.”

The 32-year-old suspect was arrested after police fired at the truck’s wheels to stop it, regional police chief Joan Carles Molinero told reporters. The suspect is being questioned at a regional hospital where he was sent for a medical checkup, Molinero said.

A Brazilian woman suffered a leg injury when she was hit by one of several butane gas tanks that fell off the truck as the man tried to escape by speeding down a highway near the northeastern Spanish city’s famed harbor. The incident took place around 11 a.m. Tuesday.

Molinero said police started chasing the truck after the driver failed to obey orders to stop from police who had seen it driving at high speeds and dropping part of its load.

Police officers inspect a truck in Barcelona, Spain on Feb. 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
Police officers inspect a truck in Barcelona, Spain on Feb. 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

During the chase that ensued, the driver took a turn near the city’s harbor and drove against traffic and into a highway exit where several cars were hit. It finally stopped when it crashed against one of the highway’s walls.

Local and regional police arrested the driver, who carried no weapons.

“At the moment, we have no indication whatsoever that he was planning a terrorist attack,” Molinero said, but added that police were investigating the man and searching the place where he lived. “We are working on the possibility that it could be a person with psychological imbalances or who has consumed substances.”

Spain has kept its national security alert at one step below maximum since July 2015, following violent attacks in France and elsewhere.