A British woman was decapitated in a supermarket on the Spanish resort island of Tenerife on Friday by a man who then fled into the street grasping her head, the local emergency services said.
62-year-old woman was in shop in the town of Arona, about 10 miles from the popular beach resort of Los Christianos, when she was brutally stabbed to and then decapitated.
According to witnesses, the suspect, believed to be a 28-year-old homeless Bulgarian man with a police record, entered the store, grabbed a knife from the supermarket shelves and attacked the unarmed woman without saying a word. He then decapitated her before leaving the store carrying her head.
Holidaymakers and locals on the Spanish island described their complete shock and horror after witnessing the scene, which took place at around 10.30am local time (9.30am GMT) on Friday.
Colin Kirby, a reporter for Tenerife Magazine, explained what he had seen as he walked past the shop, in Los Cristianos, Arona, which is situated on the southern point of the island at around 10.30 am.
He said he had spoken to an English couple who were in the shop when the incident happened. “They said this guy just walked in, pulled a big knife and started stabbing at her,” he said (check the video above.)
He added: “I didn’t see the attack but I saw the guy. I was walking past the commercial centre and I saw a small group of people outside. There was a guy from the medical centre going down the ramp and I thought perhaps someone had fainted.”
He continued: “I heard people shouting and screaming and making a commotion. A Hispanic looking guy, very scruffy, was walking behind me muttering to himself, carrying what I thought was a joke head by the hair, with blood.”
“It looked like he was carrying a prop from the Clash of the Titans but then I realised it wasn’t a joke. The man was in his late 20s. He was a bit dishevelled, unwashed, he was wearing a jumper and trousers, when everyone else is wearing shorts. Even at 10.30 in the morning, it’s boiling.”
“He went to walk across the road and then some security spotted him and managed to grapple him to the ground. They had to fight off some of the locals who were trying to get to him.”
Christina Perez, a legal representative at a nearby court, said a group of lawyers witnessed the man sprinting out of the store, carrying the head. “They saw the man running out of the supermarket with the head in his hands.
“A security man from the complex ran after him and jumped on to him so he fell, and then he threw the head on to the road,” she said. Ms Perez, 38, added that her frightened colleagues darted indoors for safety.
“They were shocked. Some of them ran to the office and locked themselves in,” she said. “Everybody is shocked. It’s a very safe area. You can usually go anywhere you want in the day or at night. This is really not normal.”
Another witness described seeing the attacker drop the woman’s head to the pavement before he was detained by security officers and police.
The woman said: “I saw a man running out with someone in his hands and a security guard chasing him. He threw it to the ground, it almost hit me, and what he had been carrying was a woman’s head.”
The attack took place as scores of holiday makers browsed among the souvenir stores in the bustling shopping district of Arona. Some of those who witnessed the attack had to be treated for shock as the true horror of what they had seen began to sink in.
José Alberto González, the mayor, said the attack did not appear to be premeditated and had been recorded on the supermarket’s security cameras. A regional interior ministry delegate, Dominica Fernández, said the suspect was believed to have entered the shop and stolen a knife, which he then used to behead the woman. The attack appeared to be random.
Tenerife, the largest of Spain’s Canary Islands off the north west coast of Africa, is a popular destination for British holidaymakers and retirees. [via The Telegraph (UK), Tenerife Magazine and Daily Mail (UK)]