Death toll in gun massacre rises to 13

Sollies-Pont - A teenager who killed 13 people in a shooting spree in southern France was a shy and lonely boy who kept pictures of Hitler and neo-Nazi books in his bedroom.

Eric Parenti, 16 [his surname was also given as Borel], who killed his mother, stepfather and half-brother before shooting 10 other people, including his only friend, was a taciturn loner whom no one thought capable of the killings. Yesterday the number of victims rose to 13 when one of the wounded died.

Parenti first shot dead his mother, Marie-Jeanne, stepfather, Yves Bichet, and 11-year-old half-brother in their home in this Provencal village and then beat them over the head with a hammer, police said.

Parenti, a pupil at a technical high school in Toulon, then walked four miles to the village of Cuers and fired on anything that moved as early risers went out to buy bread or newspapers.

One of the victims was his only friend, 17-year-old classmate Alan Guillemette, who was shot in the head when he answered the door after Parenti rang the bell.

He died in a helicopter taking him to hospital. He was outgoing and voluble, just as Parenti was introverted and retiring, their headmaster, Roger Decombis, said.

Guy Guigou, the mayor Cuers, said gendarmes had found neo-Nazi books and portraits of Hitler at Parenti's home. Gendarme Lieutenant-Colonel Marcel Kapfer said investigators also found "graffiti and stickers with a Nazi connotation".

Parenti committed suicide with a bullet to the head on Sunday after gendarmes had surrounded him.

"He was a rather introverted pupil, secretive and shy. He visibly avoided contacts with his comrades," said one of his former teachers at a local school.

Mr Decombis said of him: "We send pupils to the social worker when they have problems, but he seemed to have none. He was a good pupil, quiet, serious and hard-working."

His classmates said he was shy and rarely spoke. "When he spoke, he never looked you in the eye," said one. "No one ever saw him with a girl. But he never said anything, so how can we know?"

Col Kapfer, who heads the gendarmerie in the Var departement, said yesterday that two weapons were found near Parenti's body: a .22 rifle belonging to his stepfather and a .22 pistol, along with a box of cartridges.

Seven of the victims died on the spot. When Parenti arrived in Cuers village square, he shot dead a 75-year-old woman, Andree Poletta, and a 75-year-old shopkeeper, Mario Pagani. Another victim was a father of five, Mohamed Maared, a Moroccan building worker. Two others died as they tried to withdraw cash from a machine and another 17-year-old, Pascal Mostachi, was killed because he had stepped out to buy bread.

A shopkeeper, Frederic Baris, said of Parenti: "He didn't look particularly worked up. I saw him walking calmly, without hurrying, holding a rifle." Guy Sintest, a cafe owner, said the boy was "very calm. He looked as if he was out hunting."

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