Man Murders Pregnant Woman and Commits Suicide Inside Madrid Church; Baby Saved by Posthumous C-Section

Man Murders Pregnant Woman and Commits Suicide Inside Madrid Church; Baby Saved by Posthumous C-Section
El País: Muerte a disparos en una iglesia de Madrid
September 30, 2011

It happened soon before the 8 PM Mass in a church in the Madrileño neighborhood Pinar de Chamartín. A man armed with a pistol entered the temple and shot a pregnant woman point blank. After that he pointed his gun at the altar and shot another woman, 52 years of age, leaving her gravely injured. He knelt before an image of Christ and committed suicide by shooting inside his mouth.

Santa María del Pinar
Four Gunshots. Photo by Juan Carlos Hidalgo, EFE
It was in the Santa María del Pinar (Our Lady of Pinar) church that Iván Berral Cid, a disturbed indigent of 34, killed a pregnant woman with a gunshot and wounded another before taking his own life before the altar. The expectant woman was named Rocío Piñeiro. She was 36 years old and was soon to give birth to her first child. Although Samur [the emergency medical team] couldn’t do anything for the mother, it successfully saved the life of the baby by performing a Caesarean section on the dead woman. The other victim, M.L.F.C., 52 years old, was shot twice but is not in critical condition.

Chief Medic Ceferina Cuesta
She Saved the Baby. Photo by Juan Carlos Hidalgo, EFE
Ceferina Cuesta, 47 years old, couldn’t do anything for Rocío Piñeiro, but she did save the child Piñeiro was expecting. The chief of the Samur team explained that “we had to extract the baby as quickly as possible so that it would suffer the least possible damage.” “Our maximum priorty was the baby as we couldn’t do anything for the mother,” the medic stated.

Deceased Rocío Piñeiro Oitavén
The Deceased: Photo by Paul White, AP
Rocío Piñeiro Oitavén was born in the Pontevedra town of Fornelos de Montes, where her family lives. She worked in a Novacaixagalicia bank branch, and for three years she had lived a few streets from the church where she was murdered. Her mother, who was next to her during the shooting, was unharmed. She had moved to the capital to be with her daughter for the birth. The deceased was to undergo a Caesarean section this Saturday.

Church Aisle
“The Devil is Pursuing Me.” Photo by Juan Carlos Hidalgo, EFE
Bullet shells were found in the area indicated pn the floor. It was in this aisle, before the altar, that the murderer took his life with a gunshot underneath the chin. Iván Berral had a restraining order from his ex-partner, who is also pregnant. He lived in homeless shelters, had 7 priors [previous crimes on his record], and carried a farewell note in a bad in which one can read, “The devil is pursuing me.”

Father Francisco Santos Domínguez
The Priest. Photo by Paul White, AP
Father Francisco Santos Domínguez was in the church at the time of the tragedy. Santos, who was going to officiate Mass, has explained to journalists that the murderer had entered the church many time before to ask what time Mass was and had a polite comportment, although he seemed rather anxious. “He shot without saying a word,” according to the pastor. Berral used a blank gun that was modified in order to shoot bullets which he carried in a racquet bag.

Witnesses of the Tragedy. Photo by Juan Carlos Hidalgo, EFE
Some of the witnesses stated that they’d never seen the killer before. Others maintained that the perturbed man had been prowling around the area dressed in bermudas and a straw hat that covered his face. The man, who was carrying a tennis racquet bag, had once entered a bar next to the church, ordered a drink, and asked for the Mass schedule. One witness described the attack as an act of “supreme hatred.”

Inside Church
“They’ve Killed Me [and] My Daughter.” Photo by Juan Carlos Hidalgo, EFE.
The pregnant woman immediately collapsed on the floor of the church to the screams of her mother, who, in a state of shock, repeatedly screamed “Me han matado a mi hija” (“They’ve killed me [and] my daughter” – in the sentence, “me” and “my daughter” are separately indicated as the direct object). “He could have killed me or someone else, but he shot at her directly,” recounted Jesús Herranz, a resident of the neighborhood who was sitting behind the victim in the pews near the back. This morning, the cleaning work in the church was finished.

Samur EMTs
Special Training for Emergencies Saves Lives
The paramedic who performed the Caesarean section on the deceased emphasized the importance of training in emergency medicine to resolve situations like the one last night: “In order to be an emergency medic, you have to be trained, as in any other specialty. I’ve spent 20 years in the streets, so I’ve had experience with C-sections. But if I hadn’t had that experience, I wouldn’t have known how to do it,” explained the doctor, who held that if the medic had been someone without that specific foundation of training, the child might not have been saved.

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