Montrealer describes panic on Barcelona's Las Ramblas

The van involved in the attack that killed 14 people in Barcelona and injured more than 100 stopped about 200 feet from where Karim Farhat and his family were standing.

Laval's Karim Farhat was with his family on famous street when deadly terror attack occurred

Thousands of people were on Las Ramblas at the time of the deadly attack, including many families. (Pau Barrena/AFP/Getty Images)

Laval resident Karim Farhat was enjoying a leisurely stroll on Barcelona's Las Ramblas with his family Thursday when a screaming crowd started running towards them.

He didn't know it at the time, but a van had just plowed into pedestrians along the famous street in the heart of Barcelona, killing 14 and injuring more than 100 people.

"People were running everywhere, screaming," he said in an interview in French with Radio-Canada. "We didn't understand what was happening, but we knew it was something serious."

Police were on the scene almost immediately, he said, "maybe a minute, a minute-and-a-half later."  

"They were yelling to get off Las Ramblas, someone is driving along the pedestrian part of the street," he said.

The van stopped about 200 feet from where Farhat and his family were standing.

"We were scared — the running crowd, the screaming," he said. "There was panic."

People ran into stores to hide. Many were crying, he said.

A family flees the scene on Barcelona's Las Ramblas Thursday after a van plowed into pedestrians. Fourteen people died and more than 100 were injured in the attack.
"They couldn't find their loved ones and we all tried to show them support," he said.

Thousands of people were on Las Ramblas at the time, including many families with their children.

"You see these children, these families out walking, and you hear about a van plowing into this crowd with all these children. It's extremely hard. It was a terrible moment for myself, for my family, for my children," he said.

Farhat said he will have to discuss what happened with his children, who were left shaken.

"They were screaming, saying they want to go home. They don't understand what this is," he said.

"It's unacceptable that these innocent people should be attacked by people who are so inhuman. These were peaceful people, in a peaceful city."

Solidarity in Montreal

Montreal City Hall will fly its flags at half mast in solidarity with Barcelona.

The move was announced by Mayor Denis Coderre on Twitter, who added that his heart goes out to the city's mayor, Ada Colau, and all the people of Barcelona.

People gathered in Parc La Fontaine Thursday night in solidarity with Barcelona. (Radio-Canada/Diana Gonzalez)
"Outraged by this cowardly and brutal attack," he wrote in French.

In another display of solidarity, Montrealers gathered at Parc La Fontaine Thursday night to observe a minute of silence for the victims of the attack.

The vigil was organized by the Cercle cultural catalan, which holds a weekly gathering in the park.

Eric Viladrich, the head of the organization, said the vigil could be followed by a more official demonstration of solidarity with Barcelona in the coming days.