Paris protesters ram burning car into mayor’s home and leave family injured in ‘assassination attempt’

Suburban mayor’s wife and child left injured in horrifying attack

Holly Hales,Bel Trew
Sunday 02 July 2023 21:55 BST
Heavy riot police presence on Champs-Elysees in security clampdown after unrest

The home of a Paris mayor has been raided and set alight while his wife and children were inside sleeping as the city continues to be rocked by riots.

Vincent Jeanbrun, who is in charge of the area of L’Hay-les-Roses in the southern suburbs, said rockets were also thrown as they fled from the burning house in what he’s calling an “assassination attempt”.

Mr Jeanbrun said his wife and one of his two children, who are both aged under eight, were injured as they fled the building in the early hours of Sunday.

The attack took place at the home of a suburban Parisian mayor (Bel Trew/The Independent)

“Last night, a milestone was reached in horror and ignominy,” he wrote on Twitter.

“My home was attacked and my family was the victim of an assassination attempt.”

The mayor was not at home at the time but was instead working at his office.

Mr Jeanbrun also said the attack was “a murder attempt of unspeakable cowardice”.

“A line has been crossed,” he said. “If my priority today is to take care of my family, my determination to protect and serve the Republic is greater than before.”

A car was used to ram through the gates of the family’s home before the vehicle was set on fire in an effort for flames to spread to the house, Mr Jeanbrun said in a statement.

His wife, Melanie Nowak, suffered a broken leg when she attempted to flee through rocket fire.

Protests have taken place in different parts of the country (AFP via Getty)

An attempted murder investigation has already been opened, according to France’s minister of the interior Gerald Darmanin. “The perpetrators will answer for their heinous acts,” he said.

The street outside of the Jeanbrun’s family home in L’Hay-les-Roses was closed off by police officers who declined to speak to the media on Sunday evening about what had occurred.

However, residents of the affluent and quiet suburb said they were “deeply frightened” by the incident and said it was “unimaginable” in their neighbourhood.

“By chance we spoke to the mayor just yesterday and he said there was a problem but we never imagined this. It’s very scary and unexpected,” said Dominique, 61, who lives 100m away and is a neighbour of the Jeanburns.

He said the mayor’s wife was still being treated for her injuries in hospital.

“They came at 1am and set fire to a car, rammed the house with it while the children were inside,” his wife Veronique added, visibly shaken. “In all the 20 years we have lived here we have never experienced anything like it. It’s terrifying,” she added.

Firefighters douse the flames of a hotel set on fire during protests in Roubaix, northern France (AFP via Getty)

Both said the area had been quiet despite the unrest rocking the rest of country but the mayor had been concerned in recent days as he had come out publicly supporting the need to police the streets.

“There is no justification for this act – people have looted shops, burned cars and now done this, attacking a family while children are inside,” Veronique added.

Another resident of the area – Michel, 30, a lawyer – said the attack only shored up the belief in these neighbourhoods that a greater police presence was needed. “Nobody is safe at the moment and so we live day by day. This area is usually calm –but people are jumping on this moment, opportunists to destabilise everything,” he added.

The attack took place about 30km (19 miles) away from where a 17-year-old boy was killed, allegedly by a police officer, during a traffic stop on Tuesday in the suburb of Nanterre.

Nahel Merzouk’s death has triggered widespread riots in France, which resulted in tens of thousands of police officers being deployed to the streets.

His grandmother, Nadia, urged people not to join in the chaos in a desperate plea on Saturday. “I want it to stop everywhere,” she told TV channel BFM TV.

“I tell the people who are rioting this: do not smash windows, attack schools or buses. Stop! It’s the mums who are taking the bus, it’s the mums who walk outside.”

Nadia went on to detail just how the tragedy has undone her family. “It’s over, my daughter no longer has a life,” she said.

Anger and unrest quickly spread from the capital’s suburbs to other parts of France including Marseille after almost a week since the shooting.

Mounia attended Thursday’s march in tribute to her son in Nanterre (Reuters)

Curfews have been enforced in some places and thousands of police deployed to the streets in a bid to stop the chaos, which has included looting and bins being set on fire.

Riots continued for a fifth night on Saturday, with 45,000 police deployed and 719 people arrested across the country by early on Sunday.

Mourners paid tribute at the teenager’s funeral in the Parisian suburb of Nanterre on Saturday, near where he died.

Nahel’s mother, who was identified as Mounia, told French television station France 5 this week about the tragedy’s impact on her.

“(The police officer) saw a little Arab-looking kid, he wanted to take his life,” she said. “A police officer cannot take his gun and fire at our children, take our children’s lives.”

The teenager was of Algerian and Moroccan descent and lived in a suburb in the Vieux-Pont neighbourhood of Nanterre, about 15km from the centre of Paris.

Nadia did not attend the “marche blanche”, which was organised by her daughter on Thursday night as she didn’t want to leave the spot where her grandson died.

French president Emmanuel Macron met with ministers on Sunday evening in a desperate effort to review the situation.

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