What began as a vacation to celebrate a Bay Area couple's first wedding anniversary ended in tragedy, Jared Tucker’s family said, when the 42-year-old was killed in Thursday’s terror attack in Barcelona.
Tucker's father, Dan Tucker, who lives in Walnut Creek, told NBC Bay Area on Friday that his daughter-in-law, Heidi Nunes-Tucker, had identified her husband's remains at a Spanish morgue.
The Lafayette couple visited Paris and Venice before arriving in Barcelona, Nunes-Tucker said Thursday. They were walking in the Catalan city's Las Ramblas shopping district when Nunes-Tucker decided to look at some jewelry while Tucker ducked into a restroom.
Moments later, a van veered onto the promenade and barreled down the busy walkway in the city center Thursday, swerving back and forth as it mowed down pedestrians and turned a picturesque tourist destination into a bloody killing zone. Thirteen people were killed, along with another person in a separate attack hours later in Catalonia.
"Next thing I know there’s screaming, yelling," Nunes-Tucker told NBC News. "I got pushed inside the souvenir kiosk and stayed there hiding while everybody kept running by screaming, and then the police eventually made us evacuate."
Nunes-Tucker had said she hadn't seen or heard from Tucker since the deadly attack. She told NBC News Thursday that she was aware of a picture circulating online appearing to show her husband looking injured and being helped by a stranger.
In the photograph, Dan Tucker said Jared Tucker was wearing a blue shirt and tan pants. He had a head wound and there was "quite a lot of blood," he said. But Dan Tucker took solace in the fact that someone was kneeling in front of him.
"That's a good sign," he recalled thinking. "He's hurt, but it's not fatal."
The family learned otherwise, Dan Tucker said, when officials at a consulate — it's unclear whether the officials were Spanish or American — showed Nunes-Tucker pictures of her husband and asked her to identify Jared Tucker.
Dan Tucker said he and his son, one of five children, owned a swimming pool construction business together.
"Jared was a neat, neat guy. Everybody loved him. He and I have worked together … ever since he’s been 16 years old," Dan Tucker said, adding that he had a "really nice relationship" with his child.
"I’ve just got so much respect for his organizational ability and all he's done. Everybody loves him and so it's going to be a really bitter pill to swallow," he said, choking up.
Jared Tucker, who has three teenage daughters from previous relationships, was visiting Europe for the first time and was booked on a flight back to the United States on Friday, his father said. The victim's sister is now traveling to Spain to support Heidi Nunes-Tucker and help bring Jared Tucker home.
When asked how he was feeling, Dan Tucker paused, struggling to answer.
"I'm not angry necessarily ... It's just hard to understand how anything like that could happen," he said.
Tucker deemed it "really bizarre" that his son was the one American among the 13 people who were fatally struck by the terrorist. "What are the chances?" he wondered.
Friends, family and other supporters gathered Friday at El Sobrante Christian School, where Nunes-Tucker is a teacher, for a vigil prayer for the family.
"Heidi is a beloved teacher here and we hurt when she's hurting," El Sobrante Christian School principal Jeannine Manguit said.
A GoFundMe account has been set up to help Jared Tucker's family.
A State Department official told NBC News Friday morning that one American was killed and another was missing. The State Department have not confirmed Tucker is the American who died.
Spanish police intensified their manhunt for an unknown number of suspects still on the loose Friday. They shot and killed five people early Friday who were wearing fake bomb belts as they attacked the seaside resort of Cambrils with a speeding car. Police also arrested four others believed linked to the Cambrils attack and the carnage Thursday on the famous Barcelona promenade.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.