'Could have happened in Raleigh:' Triangle natives describe chaos moments after Barcelona attacks
Posted August 17
BARCELONA, SPAIN — Raleigh-natives Julie and Josh Palmer were one block away from the deadly Barcelona attacks in Las Ramblas Thursday afternoon.
Josh Palmer, who was in Barcelona competing in a professional poker event, and his wife said they were having lunch around 4 p.m. when the attack occurred. They were able to return safely to their hotel.
"All of a sudden we saw a bunch of people running down the road," Julie Palmer said. "Stores were closing. People were closing down their garage doors. It was kind of like a lockdown."
"It kind of calmed down for a couple seconds, and then there would come another wave of people from Las Ramblas."
Palmer saaid when the attack happened, she immediately took to Facebook to let family and friends in North Carolina know that they are safe.
"We actually got off a tourist bus right at where the van ended up and walked a different way today. A couple hours earlier we could have been right there," she said.
Palmer said she noticed armed officials just moments before the attacks.
"They had their guns pointed down when they were walking. They were very intense," she said. "Our first thought was to get out and get away from everybody that was running.”
Palmer said people were running away without knowing what was happening.
"There was just a scatter effect because no one knew what had happened. With so many people, there was just confusion," she said.
Paul Lacono with Travel Experts of Cary said travel to Barcelona and other European destinations are still extremely popular.
He said recent attacks have caused some people to reconsider their travels. He often reminds concerned clients about safety statistics.
"There are 75 million tourists in Spain every year," he said. "The chances that you're going to be one of the 75 million who is hurt in a terrorist attack is so minute, so small," Lacano said.
Palmer said she and her husband still plan to explore Barcelona.
"We're choosing not to live in fear. This could have happened in Raleigh, the same as here in Barcelona."