By INTI LANDAURO, Updated March 20, 2012, 10:28 a.m. ET, WSJ
TOULOUSE, France—The man who gunned down four people at a school in this southern French city apparently filmed his attack, further convincing authorities that they are searching for a merciless killer who meticulously planned the shooting that has sparked horror and outrage across France.
French Interior Minister Claude Guéant, who is helping coordinate a manhunt for the killer from Toulouse, said both a witness and closed-circuit television footage captured near the school have helped establish that the shooter had a camera strapped on his body. “The killer had a camera tied to his chest that would allow him to film and view the footage on a computer,” said Mr. Guéant Tuesday. “This adds to the psychological profile we established for the killer.”
A search continued Tuesday for the shooter, who opened fire Monday on a Jewish school, killing a father and his two young sons along with an eight-year old girl. French authorities are trying to pursue several leads as they seek to connect the dots between Monday’s shooting at the Ozar Hatorah private Jewish school in Toulouse and two recent attacks on soldiers in the area that left three dead. All of the shootings were carried out by a lone gunman on a powerful scooter.
Police have determined that the same .45-caliber handgun was used in all three attacks and are trying to identify the shooter using closed-circuit television footage captured near the school that shows the scooter’s license plate number. Prosecutors are also trying to trace an email exchange that may have led to a meeting between one of the slain soldiers and his killer.
Mr. Guéant said the same black scooter was used in the shootings of the soldiers but a white scooter was used in the attack on the school. Authorities have not ruled out that the vehicle was repainted.
Prosecutors have described the killer as “coldblooded” though they are still trying to pinpoint his motivation. Mr. Guéant said all of the witnesses to Monday’s killings said “he was cold and determined and showed great cruelty.”
“According to a witness, the killer had a camera tied to his chest that would allow him to film and view the footage on a computer,” Mr. Guéant said. “This adds to the psychological profile we established for the killer.”
It seems any footage wasn’t broadcast thus far, he said. “Our priority now is to find the killer,” he added, noting concern that the gunman could attack again.
Mr. Guéant said the attack on the school appeared to have been prompted by anti-Semitism. Three former soldiers who were sacked in 2008 from a barracks near Toulouse for their neo-Nazi views are potential suspects, he said. But authorities also believe the motives may be broader. The soldiers shot in the recent attacks weren’t Jewish but of North African descent, suggesting the killer—if it is the same man—may be racist and interested more in attacking minorities, authorities said. “We will have time to find out what ideology he follows when we arrest him,” said Mr. Guéant.
The gunman opened fire on a group of children and their parents Monday just before 8 a.m. local time, as the Ozar Hatorah school’s doors were opening for the day. He killed Franco-Israeli teacher Jonathan Sandler, 30, his two sons Gabriel and Arye, as well as Myriam Monsonego, daughter of the school’s director. A 17-year old boy who was seriously injured is slowly recovering in a Toulouse hospital after having heart and lung surgery.