Lyon | Three gendarmes were killed and a fourth injured by a madman on the night of Tuesday to Wednesday in an isolated hamlet in central France, while they were intervening for domestic violence.
This is the most tragic news item of the year involving the police in France.
The madman, 48 years old, was found dead in the morning, announced the Minister of the Interior Gerald Darmanin.
“A priori a suicide”, we added in his entourage.
Very significant means had been used during the night to apprehend the suspect, with some 300 soldiers deployed, including a mobile gendarmerie squadron, as well as dog squads and a helicopter.
The victims are Brigadier Arno Mavel (21), Lieutenant Cyrille Morel (45) and Warrant Officer Remi Dupuis (37), the Interior Ministry said in a statement.
President Emmanuel Macron paid tribute to them on Wednesday, calling them “heroes”.
“They intervened to rescue a woman victim of domestic violence in the Puy-de-Dôme, three gendarmes were killed, a fourth injured. The Nation joins in the grief of families. To protect us, our forces act at the risk of their lives. They are our heroes, ”the head of state said in a tweet.
The soldiers were fatally wounded by a gun by a man while trying to rescue a woman who found refuge on the roof of a house, near the village of Saint-Just, in the region of Clermont-Ferrand , according to corroborating sources.
Shortly after midnight, two gendarmes, alerted for acts of violence against a spouse, were targeted by shots, after trying to approach the house where the threatened woman had taken refuge. One of them died of his injuries while the second, injured in the thigh, was taken to hospital by firefighters.
After setting fire to his house, the madman again shot at the gendarmes present in the vicinity of the house, killing two new soldiers among the soldiers, the Clermont-Ferrand prosecutor’s office confirmed to AFP.
The firefighters were only able to approach the two victims after several tens of minutes, the time to secure the perimeter. Called to the scene of the tragedy, help could do nothing to revive them.
The threatened woman has been taken to safety and is currently being questioned in an attempt to shed light on the facts.
The perpetrator of the fatal shots is said to be known for acts related to child custody issues.
Apart from terrorism, attacks with firearms against the police are relatively rare in France.
In June 2012, two women gendarmes were killed by firearms in Collobrières (south-east) during an intervention for a neighborhood conflict.
Last May, a madman entrenched at his home in Saint-Christoly-Médoc (southwest) had fired a rifle on the gendarmes, slightly injuring one of them. While the man was about to shoot again, with a sniper rifle, a GIGN gendarme had killed him with a “neutralization shot”.