AN OX went on the rampage in the centre of Albufeira last Saturday afternoon, injuring five people and causing widespread panic. It escaped from its handler at around 2.45pm, while being led from a truck outside the city’s bullring.
The ox was to be used to lead out the bulls for the fight at Praça de Touros, due to begin 15 minutes later. A British holidaymaker and a member of the local GNR were among those injured in the incident, which ended with the shooting of the animal.
After its escape, the ox damaged three parked cars in the Santa Eulália area, before heading for Avenida dos Descobrimentos, where it caused a minor car accident. Two kilometres further along the same road, it collided with a woman and three men, one of whom was British. Close to the McDonald’s restaurant, the ox crossed the road, crashing into the door of a passing car, smashing its window. It was at this point that six policemen were able to surround the animal and shoot it dead.
Criticism surrounds the police’s use of bullets rather than tranquillisers. When asked about this, Commander Marco Henriques of Albufeira GNR told The Resident’s Caroline Cunha: “The law states that when an animal places human lives in danger, it can be shot dead. We did try to stop it in other ways, by forcing it to go in a direction so we could trap it in a safe area, but it did not co-operate with our actions. We had no choice,” he said. “The animal was very aggressive because it was so scared.”
Unfortunately, curiosity led many members of the general public to congregate in Avenida dos Descobrimentos, a situation that made it very difficult for the GNR to safely take aim at the animal.
Commander Henriques confirmed that a bullet fired by one of the military passed through the ox and ricocheted off the ground, hitting the glass window of a nearby sports store. A young boy who was inside suffered minor injuries to his buttock, but it is not sure whether it was caused by broken glass or the bullet. The GNR officer sustained a fractured arm and underwent surgery, while the remaining injured parties received treatment at Albufeira’s Health Centre. Commander Henriques confirmed the identity of the British person involved, who was Darren Lane from Cheddar in Somerset. “Mr. Lane was seated at a table outside a snack bar. He tried to run when he saw the animal but could not get out of its way in time. Fortunately, his injuries were not serious and he was treated at Albufeira’s Health Centre.” Mr. Lane later provided a statement of the events to the local GNR.
Commandant Henriques explained that the incident lasted a total of between 20 to 25 minutes from when the animal escaped until it was stopped.
The GNR chief informed The Resident that the owner of the ox now faces serious charges. Papers have been filed by the authorities.