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Killer may have filmed shootings at Jewish school in France

March 20, 2012 | 12:19 pm


REPORTING FROM PARIS -- Police hunting a suspected serial killer who gunned down a rabbi and three children at a Jewish school in southwestern France are investigating reports that the assassin may have filmed the shootings.

French Interior Minister Claude Guéant said the attacker wore "a kind of filming apparatus" on his chest when he barged into the Ozar-Hatorah school in Toulouse on Monday morning. Asked if he thought the gunman recorded what one witness described as a "scene of horror," Guéant said: "We can imagine that."

A massive manhunt was underway Tuesday to find the drive-by killer who police also believe is responsible for the deaths of three paratroopers of North African origin in two separate shootings last week. Investigators say the same high-caliber gun was used in all the attacks. They have also identified a powerful Yamaha motorbike used by the killer to make his getaway in all three attacks.

With the country in a state of shock, police spread over southern France searching for the man who wore a motorcycle helmet during each shooting. In the Toulouse region the security level was raised to "scarlet" for the first time since France's national security plan was introduced in 1978, amid fears that the killer might strike again. Police guards have been mounted outside churches and religious schools.

Detectives are searching for possible links between the gunman and neo-Nazi groups, but say this is one of several lines of inquiry.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said a "monster" was on the loose.

"There are beings who have no respect for life. When you grab a little girl to put a bullet in her head, without leaving her any chance, you are a monster. An anti-Semitic monster, but first of all a monster," Sarkozy said.

On Tuesday, the victims were named as Jonathan Sandler, 31, a rabbi and teacher; his two sons Arieh, 5, and Gabriel, 4; and Miriam Monsonego, 7, the daughter of the school headmaster. The killer chased the girl into the school campus and executed her with a shot to the head.

On Tuesday evening, the bodies of the four French Israelis were on their way to Israel for burial. France's Muslim and Jewish communities will unite for a "silent march" in Paris on Sunday.


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-- Kim Willsher

Photo: Police stand outside the Jewish school Ozar Hatorah de Jolimont in Toulouse, France, on Tuesday. Credit: Caroline Blumberg / European Pressphoto Agency