Hundreds of relatives, friends and neighbors of Ignacio Echeverría – and many people who never knew him personally – gathered on Sunday at the funeral home holding the remains of a man who has been dubbed a “hero” for standing up to a terrorist at the Borough Market attack in London.
His body arrived in Spain on Saturday to an official ceremony led by Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who posthumously awarded Echeverría the Great Cross of Civil Merit for his bravery.
Echeverría, 39, died after trying to defend a woman who was being stabbed by one of the three terrorists who drove a vehicle into pedestrians, then attacked passersby with knives on the night of June 3. For days following the attack, he was reported only as missing, prompting Spanish authorities to ask UK officials for a speedier identification of victims.
The Spaniard had been working for HSBC in London, tracking suspicious financial transactions, including those related to possible terrorist activities.
He was buried in Las Rozas, northwest of Madrid, where the family had been living for years after moving from the northeastern Spanish region of Galicia when Echeverría was young.
People came from all over Madrid region to express their condolences and admiration for Echeverría, who took on a terrorist with his skateboard and was stabbed to death himself.
“It’s a bit like he was my own son,” said one Las Rozas resident who did not know him personally. “I feel sadness and pain and also anger. I am here to support the family, I felt an obligation to do so.”
The father of a former colleague of Echeverría’s praised his courage in defending a person under attack. “We don’t see a hero like this every day,” he said. “This kid has taught us a very valuable lesson.”
English version by Susana Urra.