Having received numerous messages from family and friends across the world who watched the news on CNN, Sky and UK news channels I can only say how it felt as someone living close to the scene where the terrible events of yesterday took place.
My friends in America and Canada, who don´t know the island, imagined it was outside my door as I invariably mention Los Cristianos in our communications. I am in fact a short distance from town, but distance is irrelevant. The ex-pat community is tiny and within minutes of this incident taking place, ironically on Friday 13th news of it was hitting our local airwaves.
I heard within 30 minutes of its occurrence as our two local forums reported that a woman had been attacked and killed in a Chinese todo shop. It didn´t take long for the story to be breaking news and initially lots of misinformation was being picked up by various world news organisations. Forget the accuracy it really brought home the realisation ‘anything for a story’.
Like many, I spent the day listening to the radio and reading the forums that crashed from time to time presumably from the sheer number of people online. Within the hour, it was confirmed by Colin Kirby, who most know personally, that the woman was actually decapitated and he watched her killer carry her head along the street like something from a movie. We heard a brave youngster on a motorcycle threw his crash helmet at the man in an attempt to put him off balance and within seconds he was wrestled to the ground and held until the police arrived.
By mid-day, we knew the killer was Bulgarian and had picked his victim at random and she was not, as initially thought, his partner. Realisation dawned it could have been any of us; the unfortunate woman was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Mid afternoon rumour (since confirmed) was that the man had been in Candelaria hospital’s psychiatric unit on several occasions and was released last February. Several local business people recognised his description from having seen him around town, often shouting abuse at passersby.
Other than she is British, possibly of Chinese descent, the victim’s identity is not being published until her family is contacted but the Concejal de Seguridad del Ayuntamiento de Arona, Manuel Reverón, said she was a resident of south Tenerife and not a tourist. What I don´t understand is why all the news items are highlighting the woman’s nationality. Is it really important – at the end of the day she was a human being, someone’s daughter, mother, sister, friend.
Bad things happen the world over but having horror hit so close to home I was glad there were several hundred of us metaphorically holding hands to support each other as we wondered how such a thing could happen in our paradise in the sun. We are now left with the question is it normal policy for mentally unstable people to be released on to our streets, if so, do the authorities know their whereabouts? Are check-ups made? It is ridiculous to suggest knives be banned but should they not be kept in a cabinet out of reach from the public – surely that is basic security.
As I sit here waiting for a new day to dawn my thoughts are with the victim of this dreadful crime, my deepest condolences go to her friends and family and anyone who witnessed this awful incident. There will be a support structure is in place to help holiday makers get through this terrible time, but it is a little different here the philosophy is ‘get on with it’. If local support and sympathy can help the family in any way they certainly have it along with our love.