A GUNMAN OPENED fire in front of a Jewish school in a southwest French city killing four people, a Toulouse prosecutor said today.
Sky News reports that four people have been killed: a teacher and three children. A fourth is in a serious condition in hospital. It says that the shooter had at least two weapons and shot a religious education teacher (30) and his two sons who were three and six years of age. The man was named locally as Jonathan Sandler.
The adult victim was a 30-year-old rabbi, while two of the children shot dead were his young sons, aged six- and three-years-old. The third child was the eight-year-old daughter of the principal of the school.
A 17-year-old boy was also injured.
The shooter drove away on a scooter, a national police official in Paris told the Associated Press. Police cordoned off the private Ozar Hathora school in the northeast of Toulouse. This is the third motorcycle shooting in a week.
One of the guns used in today’s attack was also fired in the two other deadly shootings, officials said.
President Nicolas Sarkozy called the shootings an “abominable drama” and a “frightening tragedy.” He denounced “the savagery” of today’s attack, and vowed to find the killer or killers. “We will find him,” he said, indicating that he believes there is just one perpetrator.
He went to the site today along with Richard Prasquier, the president of CRIF, the umbrella group representing Jewish organisations.
The shooting occurred about 8.10 am in the same area where a gunman on a motorbike opened fire on three uniformed paratroopers at a bank machine Thursday, killing two and critically wounding the other. The attack in the town of Montauban occurred not far from the soldiers’ barracks.
Four days earlier, a gunman on a motorbike shot and killed another paratrooper in Toulouse, about 50 kilometres away. The Paris prosecutor’s office said it will investigate eventual terrorist links to Monday’s killing and the two killings of paratroopers last week.
Authorities said at the time of the earlier shootings that forensic analysis had shown that the same weapon was used in the Montauban and Toulouse attacks.
A massive manhunt is now underway and the terrorism alert level is raised to its highest level across the area surrounding Toulouse. Security has been increased at schools and synagogues around the country.
- Additional reporting AP and Sinéad O’Carroll