Disneyland Paris arrest: Man found with two guns in suitcase 'says he feared for safety and wanted to protect himself'

Initial investigations do not indicate any link to terrorism, police sources said

Click to follow
The Independent Online

A man arrested in Disneyland Paris with two guns in his suitcase has reportedly told police he was carrying the weapons because he feared for his safety.

The 28-year-old was on his way into the Hotel New York on Thursday when a compulsory security scan uncovered them in his luggage, with further searches finding ammunition and a Koran.

The arrest sparked fears of another terror plot in France, which is still under a state of emergency following November’s Paris attacks, but initial investigations do not appear to point to terrorism.

A security checkpoint is set up at the entrance of Disneyland Paris on 28 January 2016

Le Parisien reported that the man told investigators he was armed with the two automatic handguns because he “feared for his safety” and wanted to protect himself.

Sources said he was a Frenchman born in the Paris suburb of Lagny-sur-Marne and lived in the capital’s 14th arrondissement, where he co-owns a brasserie.

Staff and customers interviewed by the AFP news agency on Saturday night were incredulous at news of his arrest.

“I think it's a mistake,” said a bartender. “Honestly, I’m completely gobsmacked…this is a joke,” said the other co-manager.

Disneyland Paris: man arrested with guns in bag

Police took him into custody and put up a security cordon around his van, which was towed from a nearby car park after searches were completed.

Officers are still searching for a woman believed to be the man’s partner. She was seen by staff at the hotel, where the man had booked a room for two, but disappeared from the scene

Police announced a woman had been detained later on Thursday afternoon but released her hours later after confirming she had been wrongly identified.

The man was not known to the intelligence services or police, except for a minor driving offence, French media reported, and an investigation by the judicial police in Meaux continues.

François Banon, the vice president for public affairs at Disneyland Paris, said: “During a routine security screening checkpoint at one of our hotels, weapons were discovered in a guest’s luggage by our x-ray machine. 

“The police were immediately notified and the individual was arrested. We continue to work closely with the authorities and the safety and security of our guests and cast members is our utmost priority.”

The Hotel New York is one of the most expensive in the resort, bordering Lake Disney and within walking distance of the Disney Village dining and shopping area, as well as the railway station and entrances to Walt Disney Studios and Disneyland parks.

Police sources told The Independent compulsory security screenings were introduced in November as part of the continuing state of emergency sparked by Isis’ Paris attacks.

Isis militants killed 130 people in a series of shootings and suicide bombings across the capital.