French police officer Arnaud Beltrame has died from his injuries after he offered to exchange himself for one of the female hostages being held inside the Super U supermarket in Trèbes. The violence unfolded Friday morning when the attacker, identified as Radouane Lakdim, stole a car, killing the passenger and gravely wounding the driver. Lakdim then drove towards military and police barracks where he shot at four National Police officers who were jogging before trying to run them down. One of the officers was wounded.
The gunman proceeded to the Super U market armed with a gun, knife and explosives. He began shooting as he walked inside shouting that he was a soldier from Isis. Two people were killed and several others wounded. Christian Medves, 50, a butcher in charge of the meat counter was shot first and Hervé Sosna, 65, a shopper was then killed while 16 others were wounded.
Around 50 terrified shoppers and staff managed to escape but several were taken as hostages. Witnesses said about 20 people in the supermarket found refuge in its cold storage room. Police found the car, and SWAT teams surrounded the market, at around 11am, beginning the three hour standoff. “They managed to get some of the people out,” said Interior Minister Collomb, but the attacker kept one woman hostage to use as a human shield. Officer Arnaud Beltrame, offered to take the place of the woman. The lieutenant colonel had his phone on so police could hear his interactions with the gunman. Collomb said that at one point the National Police lieutenant colonel shot the gunman. After hearing shots, police stormed the supermarket where Lakdim had been left holding only Beltrame. Lakdim was killed and Officer Beltrame, who had been shot and stabbed, later died from his injuries.
Lakdim, 25, a small-time drug-dealer who had French nationality and was born in Morocco, left a handwritten letter at his home pledging allegiance to Isis. He was known to authorities for petty crimes, but had been under surveillance by security services in 2016-2017 for links to the radical Salafist movement, said Paris prosecutor Francois Molins, who is leading the investigation. One neighbour told a news reporter that the suspect was a pleasant young man who was “calm, friendly, and always had a nice word to say.” He reportedly lived in an apartment block with his parents and sisters, and would take the youngest child to school every day.
Interior Minister Gérard Collomb said that he believed Lakdim had acted alone and that the gunman also brought homemade explosives into the supermarket. Police continue to question a 17-year-old and Lakdim’s 18-year-old girlfriend. Collomb said the gunman had demanded the release of Salah Abdeslam – the prime surviving suspect in Islamic State suicide bombing and mass shooting attacks on a sports stadium, concert hall and restaurants that killed 130 people in Paris in 2015. Abdeslam, a French citizen born and raised in Brussels, went on trial in Belgium last month.
President Macron hailed the fallen officer as a hero saying of the officer. “He saved lives and honoured his colleagues and his country,”