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Teacher shot dead at Jewish school in France is identified

March 19, 2012 |  8:54 am

REPORTING FROM PARIS AND JERUSALEM -- The teacher shot dead by a gunman at a Jewish school in southern France on Monday was identified as Jonathan Sandler, a French Israeli whose two young children were also killed.

Sandler, 30, hailed from Jerusalem and was working as a teacher at the Ozar-Hatorah secondary school in the French city of Toulouse. Sandler, his 3- and 6-year-old sons and a 10-year-old girl were all gunned down Monday morning by a man who barged onto campus and fired on bystanders.

A 17-year-old remains in critical condition, authorities said.

Investigators are trying to determine whether the attack is linked to the drive-by shooting deaths of three French soldiers in the region in the past 10 days. One of the guns used in Monday’s incident was the same type of pistol as that used in the killings of the soldiers.

Photos: Shooting at French school

Elhanan Drei, an employee at the school who witnessed the attack, told Israel Radio that “a man came on a motorcycle and began shooting at people who came to pray in the synagogue and to school. He shot at three little children and [Sandler].

“We saw him escape. He was a man of around 25 on a large motorbike, but he was wearing a helmet and I didn’t see his face,” Drei said. “He knew very well whom he was shooting at. The neighborhood is usually quiet. The school has been here for more than 20 years, and no one has ever had any problems here.”

Sandler reportedly arrived in Toulouse from Israel last September to take up a two-year post at the school.

In Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement saying: "It's too early to say what the precise background for this act of murder is, but I think that we can't rule out that there was a strong murderous anti-Semitic motive here."

Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni called the attack “shocking and painful.”

“France must protect its citizens against such crimes,” Livni said. “They have proven in the past that they know to deal with this well, and I am confident they will do so this time too.”


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