BARCELONA – A man who was found dead in his car after running over a police officer at a security checkpoint following a terror attack in Barcelona was killed with a knife instead of police gunfire, and investigators were studying potential links between his death and the attack, the head of Catalonia’s regional department of the interior said on Friday.
Joaquim Forn told Catalonian radio RAC1 that he could confirm that the man had not participated in Thursday’s attack, in which a man drove a van into pedestrians on Barcelona’s Rambla boulevard, killing 13 and leaving 80 hospitalized.
Hours after the attack, a man drove through a security roadblock in the city’s main Diagonal Avenue and injured an officer before being shot at by police. He was found dead in his car 3 kilometers (1.9 miles) away.
“The man who died is the owner of the car, and there is another person who could be linked to the car and could be the one who committed the attack on the Rambla, but it could also be an unrelated incident,” said Forn.
Police are investigating the possibility that the dead man was not driving the car and that the actual driver was the person responsible for the Rambla attack who is still on the run.
Forn said that they were also investigating whether the people behind the attack in Barcelona may have planned to carry butane gas bottles found in Alcanar, a town 200 kilometers south of Barcelona, in the van and detonate them on the Rambla.
On Wednesday, one person was killed and 16 were injured when a house in Alcanar exploded due to an accumulation of gas.
The head of the regional police, Josep Lluis Trapero, said Thursday that they had initially treated the incident as a gas explosion but revised their original analysis after the attack and now believed there was a link between the two events.