Police in Spain are investigating after a half-tonne fighting bull pushed its way out of a bullring, injuring two people as it charged through the streets of a small town in central Spain before being reportedly rammed to death by a car.
The incident took place in the early hours of Sunday as many in the village of Brihuega, population 2,400, had gathered in the local bullring to take in a concurso de recortadores, in which participants take turns jumping, twirling and manoeuvring around a bull or heifer in hopes of being deemed the most “courageous” in the ring.
Video from the event showed the final animal of the evening, a bull named Campanito, take aim at the doors of the bullring. After pushing his way through the first set of doors, a second set gave way easily and the bull slipped out on to the narrow streets of the village.
“The bull is heading out to the street,” a voice can be heard saying in the video, as at least a dozen people, including organisers of the event, began pursuing the bull. The commentator continued: “Panic in the stands, everyone has climbed higher up.”
Two men, ages 73 and 64, were gored as the bull made its way along several streets of the village. Both had to be taken to hospital, one with minor injuries. The other is reportedly in stable condition.
Residents decided to intervene by striking the bull with a vehicle, one resident told Eldiario.es. “They hit the bull until it died,” said the unnamed resident.
A graphic video appears to show the bull sauntering through a street as a car behind it speeds up before slamming into the animal.
On Monday Spain’s Guardia Civil said it had identified the driver of the vehicle and that it was working to clarify exactly what had happened. So far there had been no arrests, nobody had been charged and the investigation remained open, a spokesperson said.
The events in Brihuega provoked a strong reaction among animal rights campaigners and proponents of bullfighting alike across Spain. “Shameful and terrible images in Brihuega,” Sergio Torres, who heads the Spanish government directorate general for animal protection, said on Twitter.
“This should be punished harshly,” he added, calling for the elimination of such events so they “do not continue to be the shame of our country”.
AnimaNaturalis, a rights group that has been investigating Spain’s thousands of annual events involving bulls, said it would seek court action over what it alleged as animal abuse.
“We will not let this case go unpunished,” Aïda Gascón of the organisation said in a statement. “Campanito was only guilty of what we would all do in his place,” she added, referring to the fleeing of the bull from the bullring.
The Guadalajara bullfighting federation, however, lauded the actions of residents. “They organised and this rapid intervention prevented the animal from reaching other areas of the village where the tragedy could have been worse,” it said in a statement.
The federation, which represents bullfighting associations across the province that includes Brihuega, slammed some media for minimising the threat that the escaped bull had posed to residents, noting that “in an extreme occasion when the population is in danger, it becomes necessary to take certain actions to avoid catastrophe”.