“We are dealing with an extremely determined individual,” the prosecutor, Francois Molins, said at a news conference. “He knows he is being hunted, and he could strike again.”
The intense national concern reflected an instinctive revulsion at seeing three young children and a teacher gunned down in front of a school. But it also grew from the sudden national realization that those slayings and the puzzling killings of the three soldiers appeared to be part of a series, the work of a psychopath with remarkable self-control or acts of terrorism by a politically motivated militant.
Molins said the crimes are being qualified as terrorism but noted that under French law, terrorism can be any crime that is carried out to disrupt the national order and does not have to be linked to a political cause. As a result, he explained, the qualification could cover the case of a hatemonger or racial supremacist as well as that of an Islamist extremist.
Investigators have no clues to guide them in any of those directions, he said. Even the description from a witness that the killer had a video camera hanging around his neck was uncertain, he said, despite the fact that it was cited in radio interviews by Interior Minister Claude Gueant as a possible insight into the gunman’s behavior.
The bodies of the four victims of Monday’s killings at a Jewish school in Toulouse were flown to Paris, meanwhile, in a French military jet. After an airport ceremony presided over by Sarkozy, an Israeli El Al airliner was to carry them to Israel for burial Wednesday according to Jewish rites.
The four — Rabbi Jonathan Sandler, 30, and his two sons, Arieh, 5, and Gabriel, 4, along with Myriam Monsonego, 7 — were dual French-Israeli nationals. Myriam’s father, Yaacov, was the principal at Ozar Hatorah school, and Sandler had come to lend a hand as a religion teacher.
According to accounts from witnesses, the killer rode up to the school on a Yamaha T-Max 530 motor scooter as students gathered for morning classes. He shot Sandler and his sons on the sidewalk outside and then killed the principal’s daughter in the courtyard, all at a range close enough to leave powder burns, Molins said.
Although some witnesses spoke of two weapons, Molins said the victims were all killed by a .45-caliber Colt semiautomatic pistol of the type that formerly was standard issue in the U.S. armed forces. The weapon was the same one used in the killing of a soldier March 11 in Toulouse and in the shooting of three more soldiers — two of whom were killed and one seriously wounded — on March 15 in Montauban, about 30 miles north.