‘It’s kind of jarring’: VCU student, staffer reflect on Barcelona terror attack

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A VCU staff member and student are reacting to the recent terror attack in Barcelona. The student had been studying there, and the staffer was in the Spanish city when a van rammed crowds of people, killing 14 and injuring more than 100 more.

VCU officials say no students are currently studying abroad in Barcelona, but a group of engineering students who studied abroad there for a month say they’re horrified after coming back to campus just three weeks ago.

“It’s a beautiful place and some of those scenes of chaos, just horrible acts there just seem very out of place,” said VCU student Michael Beiro, who spent a month studying in Barcelona.

He’s stunned by Thursday’s terror attack in a place where some of his family members live.

“I reached out to my friends and family as soon as learned about the attack,” he said. “Made sure the elderly woman who hosted me and one other student there, made sure she was OK as well as well as my second cousins.”

Beiro said he captured his own memories of the trip in the same spot attacks occurred.

“It’s kind of jarring,” he said.

Stephanie Smith from VCU’s Institute for Contemporary Art is currently in Barcelona to spend time with a friend.

“There was cause for concern to know if there were additional police actions and further violence later in the day,” she said.

Smith said from what she can see, Barcelona seems to be moving forward.

“People are out, people are walking, people are having dinner, people are enjoying these decorated streets that their neighbors put together and it really feels like a powerful reaffirmation of the importance of living good, daily life,” she said.

Beiro, meanwhile, hopes something like this doesn’t happen like this again, in a place he’s come to love.

“I kind of knew that the response would be quick and strong and firm and that the people there would show the resilience that I’ve come to know from the Barcelonian, Catalonian people,” he said.

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