French prosecutor: Shooter’s victims shot in head

Published: Wednesday, March 21, 2012 5:30 a.m.CDT

PARIS – All seven victims of a shooter spreading terror in southwest France were killed with bullets to the head, shot at such close range that the gunfire burned the skin, a prosecutor said Tuesday.

French Police spread out across the region by the hundreds, hunting for an expert gunman who may have neo-Nazi ties or grudges against minorities.

The gunman is suspected of carrying out three deadly attacks: killing four people Monday at a Jewish school in Toulouse, three of them young children; shooting dead two French paratroopers and seriously wounding another Thursday in nearby Montauban; and shooting dead another paratrooper in Toulouse on March 11.

All three attacks were carried out by a man on a motorcycle who was wearing a helmet and carrying a Colt 45, Prosecutor Francois Molins told reporters in Paris.

But he said other clues to the killer’s identify were scarce.

“We are confronted with an individual extremely determined in his actions, an armed individual who acts always with the same modus operandi,” Molins said, “in cold blood ... with premeditated actions.”

He added the crimes appear to be premeditated because of the killer’s “choices of victims and the choices of his targets” – the army, the foreign origin of the victims or their religion.

All the victims at the school were dual French-Israeli citizens and the paratroopers were of North African or French Caribbean origin.

Molins noted that the attacks had occurred every four days, but said he could not address security arrangements that might be in place Friday – the fourth day after the attack on the Jewish school.

President Nicolas Sarkozy has raised the terror alert for the region to scarlet, the highest level on the four-color scale.

Hundreds of extra police will be on duty today for the funeral of three paratroopers, and Sarkozy will speak at that ceremony.

More than 200 specialized investigators, including psychologists and profilers, are on the case and “no clue will be abandoned or neglected,” Molins said.

But he said an earlier report by Interior Minister Claude Gueant that the shooter had a camera around his neck and could have been filming the attack was still only a hypothesis.

Earlier in the day, wails and weeping filled the air as the Jewish school honored the victims, including the rabbi who taught there.

Several young men pressed their heads against the rear window a hearse in grief as it drove away.

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