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Wednesday, 27 March, 2002, 09:34 GMT
Witnesses describe calm killer
People hug each other outside Nanterre Town Hall
The attack has left survivors and relatives shocked
The gunman who opened fire on a council meeting in Paris acted methodically and calmly, working his way around the room as he shot his victims, witnesses say.

I saw everyone around me crumpling to the ground

"It seemed like it would never end," said one councillor shot in the arm during the rampage.

"It was a real nightmare, I saw everyone around me crumpling to the ground."

The man, who was a regular attender at council meetings, patiently waited until the meeting ended, around 0115 (0015GMT).

He then rose from his seat in the public gallery and, without saying a word, opened fire.

Mayor Jacqueline Fraysse
Jacqueline Fraysse: "It lasted many minutes"
"The gunman was nearly alone in the public gallery and acted methodically. He was very calm, he didn't look like a crazy person at all," said one eyewitness.

Nanterre's Mayor, Jacqueline Fraysse, who survived the attack uninjured, had just declared the meeting closed.

"We were about to leave when suddenly a man got up and started shooting straight ahead," she said, speaking calmly to reporters who had rushed to the scene.

"Then he moved to where the council members were sitting.

I crawled under my table and a bullet went through my jacket. I thought I was hit

Council official
Samuel Rijik
"He said nothing. It was long. It lasted many minutes. He kept firing."

Some councillors froze as the man moved towards them, witnesses said.

Others leapt into action, using their bare hands or council furniture in a desperate attempt to stop him.

At least one councillor reportedly threw a chair at the gunman to try to knock him to the ground. Another person tried to wrestle him to the floor.

But witnesses said the man never stopped shooting.


"I thought it was a joke at first," said council official Samuel Rijik. "Some people thought it was firecrackers.

"I crawled under my table and a bullet went through my jacket. I thought I was hit."

Witnesses say the man had two or three guns, and was shooting with both hands at once.

After he was overpowered, he shouted 'kill me, kill me'

Deputy Mayor Lucien Batard
"He was shooting at anything that moved," said one person.

Others described how he calmly reloaded his weapons before carrying on.

"It lasted a long time. He replaced the cartridges and must have shot 40 or 50 rounds," Nanterre's Deputy Mayor, Lucien Batard, told France's Europe 1 radio station.

By the time the man was finally overpowered by survivors, the floor of the council chamber was strewn with the dead and injured - and littered with shells.

"After he was overpowered, he shouted 'kill me, kill me'," Mr Batard said.

Witnesses were baffled as to what had provoked such a brutal attack by a man known by sight to many of them.

One witness said: "He comes to all the council meetings and had no motive to do this."

See also:

27 Mar 02 | Europe
Eight dead in Paris shooting
29 Oct 01 | Europe
French rail worker in gun rampage
27 Sep 01 | Europe
Gunman kills 14 in Swiss assembly
08 Mar 02 | Country profiles
Country profile: France
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