French Terrorist Attacks Student and Teachers in School
The 17-year-old wounded his head teacher and two pupils in French school shooting spree
By Gareth Davies -16 March 2017
The teenage son of a far-right French politician launched a gun attack on his own school today, wounding four people including the headmaster.
Kylian Barbey, 17, opened fire at the Alexis de Tocqueville lycee in the perfume town of Grasse, close to France's Mediterranean coast.
The gunman, armed with two revolvers, a hunting rifle and a backpack containing fake grenades, was arrested after the headteacher and three students were injured.
Head Herve Pizzinat and three pupils, two of whom were identified solely as Julie, 16, and Akram, 17.
Barbey is said to be obsessed by American high school shootings and had complained of bullying.
A frightening video on his Facebook page shows a man in a clown mask pointing a gun at the camera and pulling the trigger before holding it to his temple and doing the same.
The gun in the video was not loaded.
The last photo the suspected gunman posted on his Facebook page was of an eerie Gothic skeleton figure with long hair dressed in a black coat and walking with a pistol in one hand an an assault rifle in the other.
He made it his profile picture on Monday.
His cover photo on Facebook is a picture of the Joker - the Batman villain - with the caption 'give a man a mask and he'll become his true self'.
Najat Vallaud-Belkacem France's education minister, visited the school this evening and described a 'mad act by a young man who is fragile and fascinated by guns'.
The four victims were in hospital tonight with non-life threatening injuries, while ten others who were lightly hurt in the rush to escape were treated at the scene.
Mr Pizzinat was thought to have intervened in a dispute between Barbey and another student, with the three students hurt by ricocheting bullets.
The shooter's father Franck Barbey is an elected municipal Councillor for the hard right Rally for France (RPF) party, which fights globalization, European federalism, and immigration.
Its members, including Mr Barbey, have traditionally allied themselves with Marine Le Pen's National Front. However, during France's current presidential election campaign, Mr Barbey is supporting Francois Fillon, of the conservative Republicans party. The two were pictured together last year.
Anti-terror police broke into the building after the shooting spree which injured at least three people and all schools in the town around 25 miles west of Nice were locked down with officers patrolling the streets.
Five others were hurt in the rush to escape.
Mr Pizzinat was thought to be the main target, with the two students hurt by ricocheting bullets.
'It was total panic,' said a student identified as Achraf, who described his ordeal to the BFM TV channel.
'The gunshots were just four or five meters from where we were. We thought the gunman was coming towards us. We heard him shouting.
Fabienne Atzori, the Grasse prosecutor, said the assailant 'went into class to find a person. He could not find him to begin with but then opened fire. The head teacher bravely intervened and was among those wounded.'
Ms Atzori added that Barbey may have been motivated by' bad relations with other pupils, he had a lot of difficulties.'
Today's three victims, including the school headteacher Hervé Pizzinat, were lightly injured.
The suspected gunman's father tweeted his support for Mr Pizzinat and the school in the immediate aftermath of the shooting spree.
He wrote: 'Wholeheartedly with the principal, teachers, staff, students and parent students at Tocqueville.'
Initially, there were fears the shooter might have an accomplice, and police were looking for him around the school grounds.
The first victim was also a student at the school, who alerted others to the presence of a shooter.
A student called Thomas told Nice Martin he saw the shooter gun down his headteacher and despite having shrapnel in his arm, he continued to try and calm the students down.
'He was incredibly cool,' Thomas said.
'I was too far away to hear what he was saying, but he remained calm even after being hit by a first shot.
'Despite the lead in the arm, he kept trying to bring him back to reason.'
Thomas said students were in floods of tears when they realized an attack was taking place and that he immediately recognized his schoolmate.
He told the French news outlet the gunman watched 'strange war videos'.
A second source said it appeared that two students had opened fire on the headmaster, who had been injured, adding that the suspects did not seem to be militants.
'One of the two was arrested and the second fled.
'There was panic and the students took refuge in the neighboring supermarket,' said the source.
An eye-witness student in the school interviewed by France Inter radio said the students had heard a bang and taken cover under the tables.
'I went to close the windows and saw a guy who looked at me in the eyes. He seemed to be a student and not very big. He shot in the air and ran away,' the student said without giving his name.
According to local journalist Soren Seelow, the gunman had researched The Columbine High School massacre - a school shooting that occurred on April 20, 1999, at Columbine High School in Columbine, Colorado. As well as shooting and killing 12 students and one teacher, perpetrators Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold planted a fire bomb to divert firefighters. Propane tanks converted to bombs were also placed in the cafeteria and 99 explosive devices and carbombs were also involved. As well as the 12 victims, 21 were injured. The pair subsequently committed suicide.
The French government issued a warning of a terrorist attack in the wake of the incident after the man in possession of several weapons fired at the headteacher.
It is understood the shooting was a targeted attack upon the headteacher, who in a statement welcoming students to the school said last year: 'Do not be afraid here - 850 pupils swim like fish in the waters of this establishment.'
He also said on the school's website: 'Parents and teachers alike, school, social and health care personnel are guidelines that guide the student in the stormy ocean of adolescence and try to avoid the reefs of incivility, the song of the sirens of absenteeism or the abyss of violence.'
Anti-terror police swarmed the school and arrived to warn neighbors to say indoors.
Despite the terror alert from the French government, Grasse town hall attempted to play down the situation saying terrorism was not a factor.
A spokeswoman told Le Dauphine: 'Two students shot at the headmaster.'
Meanwhile, the education minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem has said she is on her way to the site.
It is less than six weeks away from a presidential election in which security and fears of terrorism are among key issues.
It was terrorism when they thought it could be a Muslim, but when they found out that it was their own then they were quick to say it's not terrorism. No surprise there.