Three French police officers were shot dead by a man when they arrived at a home in Saint-Just, a remote commune in central France, to respond to a domestic violence call, police said on Wednesday (December 23).
A woman who was the reported victim of the domestic violence had sought refuge on the roof of the house and was subsequently rescued by police, France’s BFMTV broadcaster reported.
The house caught fire, police said, and the suspected gunman, who was known to law enforcement over child maintenance issues, was later found dead in his car.
It was not immediately clear how he died or where the car was located. Police had previously said the man was armed and they were trying to track him down. The incident took place in a small hamlet in Saint-Just, about 500 km (310 miles) southeast of Paris.
French President Emmanuel Macron offered condolences to the families of the dead officers.
“To protect us, our forces act putting their lives at risk. They are our heroes,” Macron wrote on Twitter.
A fourth officer was wounded in the attack and his injuries were not life-threatening, the interior ministry said.
Officials did not comment on the motive. France’s interior minister described the attacker as a “maniac.”
The suspected gunman was 48 and known to law enforcement for non-payment of child maintenance, according to an official in the prosecutor’s office in the nearby city of Clermont-Ferrand.
Officers from the local gendarme police service arrived at the house in the hamlet early in the morning, after receiving reports about a woman who had been beaten by her partner, the interior ministry said in a statement.
Officer Arno Mavel, 21, died from his injuries, the ministry said. In a second unit of reinforcements, Lieutenant Cyrille Morel, 45, and adjutant Remi Dupuis, 37, were both killed, it said.
After the shootings, police commanders sent in a rapid-response unit, deployed reinforcements to seal off the area, and launched a manhunt for the suspected attacker.
(Production: Michaela Cabrera)