Last week a man described as having tattoos on his face, wearing a helmet and driving a black motor scooter killed three ethnic minority (North African) French soldiers in southern France at two different shooting scenes by use of a .45 cal firearm. In one, after shooting two soldiers at point blank range while they were at an ATM, the shooter rolled one of his victims over to shoot him again, this evidently to ensure he had carried out his deadly mission.
Today (3/19/12) a similarly described lone gunman, again on a black motor scooter, drove up to a Jewish day school in Toulouse, France, where he used a similar .45 cal firearm and a 9mm automatic weapon to spray bullets at the students, teachers and parents arriving for school at 8:10 AM. A teacher, his two children and the daughter of the school’s principal were all killed and others wounded before the gunman sped off, causing some witnesses to suggest that the shooter appeared to know the streets of the local area well.
The children killed, ages 3, 6, and 10, were at the drop off area for primary age students and attended one of 20 similar Jewish schools in France. The town of Toulouse is now in virtual lockdown as police and the military search for the shooter. If the same killer is responsible for all three shooting events, he would be a spree killer, described as someone killing multiple victims at different locations in an ongoing crime spree, this versus a serial killer, i.e., someone who kills three or more victims at different crime scenes with an emotional cooling off period between offenses. American Andrew Cunanan was a spree killer who killed five victims during a three month crime spree in 1997, to include fashion designer Gianni Versace in Florida, this before committing suicide.
France has also seen a number of mass murderers, by this someone who kills three or more victims at the same place at the same time, someone like Christian Dornier who in France in 1989, killed his sister, mother and 12 others, or Eric Bonel, who in 1995 killed his mother, stepfather, half brother and 12 others. Europe recently witnessed one of its worst mass murderers when just last year Norwegian Andres Breivik used a car bomb to kill 8 and then moved to a summer camp where he killed another 69 students and adults. A US Army soldier is currently in custody for allegedly killing 15 Afghanistan civilians in their homes, this after suffering a mental breakdown.
Like Breivik in Norway, the current French spree killer carried at least two firearms and with military precision, quickly transitioned from a .45 to a 9mm when one weapon appeared to malfunction. While authorities must forensically prove that not only did the killer of the soldiers and the school children use a similar .45 weapon, but the same weapon, I’m sure the investigation is proceeding forward with that presumption, i.e., the same killer was at all three crime scenes, was responsible for the at least seven deaths and multiple injured, and is currently out and about in France, perhaps plotting his next deadly act in his ongoing murderous crime spree.
Motive is sometimes difficult to understand in such crimes, and while some have suggested the soldiers were murdered because they may have served in the Middle East, the religion of the Jewish victims must now also be factored into this mess of bodies, bullets and blood. Could the killer be Middle Eastern himself and somehow carrying out his own personal Jihad, or could he be someone whose troubled mind cried out against the racial and ethnic issues facing France today?
Whoever the killer turns out to be, and should he be acting with assistance, the authorities will quickly identify this terrible murderer of innocents. Such a man, if on a personal mission, will be known for his anger, hatred and twisted thoughts concerning his victims and with the public’s help, he’ll be brought to justice. If, however, he is the lone wolf terrorist that we all fear, finding him may be much more difficult, so difficult that he will likely have time to strike again with the callousness known only to such psychologically challenged killers.
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