‘We can’t stay here. There is a body outside the door’

Wexford man and family locked into Barcelona museum for two hours during attack


Moments after Wexford man Shane Kelly, his wife Alice Gilmour and their three children stepped into the Virreina Centre de la Imatge on Barcelona’s La Rambla avenue, chaos erupted on the street outside the famous art and culture museum.

The family, who live in Saltaire, West Yorkshire, had been in Spain for the past two weeks on holidays and were taking in the city’s famous architectural sights on Thursday evening before planning to grab a bite to eat.

Initially Kelly said the family was unsure what was happening outside the museum, but they could see lots of people running, so they tried not to panic and figure out what was happening.

Little did he know that the terrorist attack that took place yesterday evening on La Rambla avenue, which claimed the lives of 13 people and left at least 100 more injured, had just started.

“We were only 10 to 15 metres inside the [MUSEUM]door when we heard a loud bang and what appeared to be tires screeching,” he recalled.

“I could see people running so looked out the door to see what was happening and there was what appeared to be the lifeless body of a man lying on the pavement in front of me.”

Kelly says he immediately went back into the centre with his family, and, as he did, other people started to pour into the building behind him looking for a place to hide. A few minutes later security guards shut the doors of the museum, and they were cut off from the outside world.

“I thought to myself, ‘we can’t panic,’ but at the same time I was thinking ‘we can’t stay here. There is a dead body outside the door’. We saw an office and tried to hide there, but we were told that there was no exit so not to go in there,” he told The Irish Times.

He added: “I was looking around trying to figure out what we should do if the terrorists came into the building. People were saying they heard shots. We managed to stay calm despite the situation – some people were in a right state, though - and started showing the kids the art to try and keep their minds off what was happening”.

The family spent two stressful hours, between 5pm and 7pm, behind the closed doors of the museum not knowing what was unfolding outside. The security guard only opened up the door when the Spanish police arrived.

“The police came in and said we could go in groups of 20,” said Kelly, “So we were among the first to leave and we had armed police with us as we made our way through the streets. “

He continued: “One police officer would run up to a street corner and peeking around before giving us a signal to come through, and then others [ARMED POLICE]were checking the roof tops as we ran along to make sure the way was clear. It was mental… very, very, scary.”

The Kellys were staying about 20 kilometres away from La Rambla avenue so they were forced to walk for hours before they could find a tube station that was operating.

“We sat on the train for an hour waiting for it to take us home. I have to say the kids were surprisingly calm even though our youngest, Rudy, saw the body as we left the museum. When we got home we stayed up and talked about what happened, by then everything was really surreal,” he concluded.