Deranged French boy slaughters 12
Monday 25 September 1995
Among the dead were three members of the youth's family - his mother, stepfather and 11-year-old stepbrother - who were battered with a hammer after being shot dead.
Pavements and a car were spattered with blood in the streets of Cuers, a town of 8,000 people north of the naval port of Toulon. Villagers sat crying, shaking their heads.
One said she had seen an old woman shot as she walked her dog and another said of the killer: "I knew him. He came every Sunday to drink a coffee on the square."
The Mayor of Cuers, Guy Gigou, said: "People are shattered; everyone is just traumatised. The village is in a state of shock."
Some of the bodies, most shot in the head, were left in the street for more than an hour. According to a witness, Frederic Bares, a local newsagent, the youth appeared in the village shortly before 7.30am, carrying a gun.
By the time the police were on the scene, half an hour later, eight people were dead, and the youth had committed suicide.
Mr Bares said the youth had walked past his shop only moments before the first shooting. He had not seemed "in a particularly nervous state ... He was walking calmly, with no hurry at all," he added.
Suddenly he had started shooting at anyone who moved. "At first I thought he was a hunter. He was about 25 metres from my place when I saw him shoot a passer-by, a shop-keeper who I think was hit in the head."
Another witness said he watched the killer retrace his steps towards a man he had wounded with a bullet in the stomach to shoot him again in the head, killing him.
"He was very calm, very poised. He put the gun to his shoulder, held his gun steady, adjusted his aim and fired. It was like he was hunting birds," said Guy Sintes, the owner of the cafe on the village square. A witness who watched from the doorway of a bar said: "The killer had a peaceful look, calmly reloading his rifle, as he headed towards the town hall while continuing to fire."
Finally, with victims strewn across roads and pavements, the youth turned the gun, a hunting rifle of the sort found in many French homes, on himself. The killer's family were later found dead in Sollies-Pont, a village four miles away. Their bodies had been savagely attacked with a hammer.
The youth's first name was later given as Eric and he was described as a pupil at a lycee in Toulon. Neighbours said he was taciturn and reserved, and that his room was plastered with posters of Hitler and neo-Nazi themes. Police said they had not established any motive for the killings, but Eric was said to have been upset by the recent death of his father from cancer and to have had an unhappy love affair.
Ambulance staff set up a first-aid post for the injured at the sports ground before helicopters arrived to take the most badly injured to hospitals in Toulon and Marseilles. Four of the wounded are described as being in a serious condition.
France has tight gun-control laws for handguns, but not for hunting rifles, which can be bought by anyone on presentation of a hunting licence. Minors require permission from their parents.
Yesterday's massacre was France's worst multiple killing since 1989, when a man shot 14 people, including his mother and sister. He was later judged not guilty due to insanity.
- 1 Isis propaganda video shows 25 Syrian soldiers executed by teenage militants in Palmyra
- 2 Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
- 3 The map showing the most dangerous tourist destinations in Europe, according to the Foreign Office
- 4 The biggest first date turnoff has been revealed
- 5 German man found living with 300 rats in tiny apartment
BBC told new political editor must be 'impartial' with Nick Robinson reportedly stepping down
Humans of New York image of crying gay teen receives best response yet from Ellen DeGeneres
Isis propaganda video shows 25 Syrian soldiers executed by teenage militants in Palmyra
Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Van driver who comforted Clark Carlisle and called 999 after suicide attempt dies age 24
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...
£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...
£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...
£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...