© Yohan Bonnet / AFP | French President Francois Hollande delivers a speech as he attends the inauguration of a new high-speed rail line, on February 28, 2017, in Villognon, central France.
On 28th February, 2017, President Hollande, whilst giving a speech in Villognon, central France, to open a high speed rail link, the sound of a single rifle shot was heard by the assembled audience, including the President himself. He was reported to have said, ""I hope it's nothing serious. I think not." Apparently his security detail did not intervene and he continued with hardly a hiccough.
Now this little fact alone is very strange indeed. With France in a continuing State of Emergency with widespread but under-reported almost continuous civil unrest for months and the subject of alleged major terrorist attack, such a relaxed response to a gunshot in the near vicinity of the President must be taking French insouciance to the nth degree. Others might suggest that only knowledge that it presented no danger or incompetence could explain the fact that the President wasn't immediately protected until the situation was properly assessed. It replicates the astounding failure to protect him during the Stade de France 13th November attacks, so presumably his protection detail has learned nothing.
The Sun: "The cop was shot in the foot and a waitress was also injured"!????
The Daily Star:
Apparently only one bullet was discharged, although this was directed towards the adjacent VIP tent where it managed to injure TWO individuals, one in the thigh and one in the foot, presumably because it was on a downward trajectory? Neither were described as serious or life threatening, down more to luck than judgement one supposes. The early claim that the bodyguard shot himself in the foot, proved incorrect. Are the French aware of the metaphorical meaning of that, and who would have put out so obviously false story if it was intended to be taken literally?
The officer concerned has not been identified. There is some opacity, even disagreement which detachment he was from. Some reports state he was a local cop drafted in to assist. Others that he was a 'marksman' which would suggest a specialist national unit. Another that he was based with a special protection unit in nearby Poitiers. Wherever he was from and whoever he works for, we must assume he had a very red face following the incident. Very strangely his mistake, which could have been a fatal error is played down, and no mention is made of any corrective or disciplinary action that may have been taken against him. One may be forgiven for suspecting a certain degree of playing down the incident and protecting the officer from criticism or ridicule?
Apparently he was on a roof about a hundred yards from the President. It is not known whether he had a clear line of sight but one must assume the position was chosen for that specific purpose or why else would he be there? It is hard to think of the point if Hollande was under cover and out of sight from that position, although I suppose it is possible. Unfortunately there appears to be a complete absence of any photographs in the media coverage that might clarify the position. As usual by and large the reports are skeletal, uniform and un-investigative.
We must conclude that if the position was chosen for a police sniper, it might have proved equally useful for an assassin or even just someone who might intend to make a political point.
So apparently the sniper was in position, presumably with a high powered rifle with sight on the top of the chosen building, having negligently released the safety catch. In adjusting his position he accidentally pulled the trigger. Both these failures in a highly trained person are hard to explain. Apart from not releasing the safety catch, no trained person would place his finger over the trigger unless intent on firing I would suggest.
In any event the safety catch was turned off and the trigger pulled, when the rifle was pointing down towards the VIP tent. At first sight this might not arouse questions but it has not been explained how the "changing position" can be reconciled with the aim maintained as it was. Nor the very relaxed approach to a potentially fatal event. For even without malicious intent, the errant bullet could presumably have ended up in the President's body.
It is not beyond the realms of possibility that the accident was not strictly as described and there was an element of intentionality to it - what we may call a warning shot across the bows, to impress on certain individuals how vulnerable they might be in a treacherous, dangerous and deceitful world?
The Daily Star:
"Two people were injured in the shooting after a police sharpshooter accidentally opened fire. The President was delivering a speech during the unveiling of an LGV high-speed rail line. Le Parisien reported the safety on the weapon of the sharpshooter – located on a nearby rooftop – was believed to be off and as he changed position he tripped and accidentally fired a shot.
"The bullet landed in the marquee in which Hollande was addressing the assembled crowd yesterday afternoon (February 28). Two people located inside the marquee received leg injuries as a result, although they are not believed to be serious. One is understood to have been a waiter and the other a member of the LGV maintenance crew, according to L’Express. (http://www.dailystar.co.uk/news/latest-news/592410/sniper-shot-shooting-french-president-hollande-speech-video)
"France shooting: Horror during President Francois Hollande speech as sniper fires weapon leaving two injured
Hollande was speaking at the opening of the Paris-Bordeaux high-speed line at Villognon (Charente), when the sound of a gunshot interrupted him. According to local media a sniper there to protect the president accidentally fired his weapon after leaving his safety off. The accidental shot injured the officer in the foot and and hit another employee in the leg.When the shot went off Hollande paused for second then told the crowd: ""I hope it's nothing serious. I think not." The marksman was stood on a roof around 328ft from a marquee where the president was speaking" (http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/shooting-during-speech-french-president-9936103)
Two people were wounded when a weapon was accidentally fired Tuesday as French President François Hollande was giving a speech in the western city of Villognon, the mayor told CNN. According to CNN affiliate BFM-TV, a local police officer aiding in the security detail for the President's visit accidentally discharged his weapon. The officer is a sniper and was positioned on top of a building, the Prefet of Charente Pierre N'Gahane told BFM-TV.
"The shot was fired as the officer moved position on a roof about 100m (328ft) from a tent where Mr Hollande was speaking in the town of Villognon.The bullet went through the canvas of the tent, where drinks were being made. It passed through a waiter's thigh and lodged in another person's calf. The injuries were not life-threatening. Asked if the officer had fired accidentally, he was quoted by the Associated Press news agency as saying: "Yes, without doubt." The marksman is based with a special protection unit in nearby Poitiers, officials said."
"The safety on the marksman's rifle was reportedly off and the shot was fired while he was changing position, Sud-Ouest reported."
"The policeman, a gendarme helping to provide security for the president, inadvertently fired the gun. He made a "mistake in the handling [of the firearm] while changing positions," an informed source said. A bullet was then discharged accidentally. Local government chief Pierre N'Gahane said the gendarme "had been standing on an elevated point and the gun went off accidentally". "The bullet grazed one person's calf and then lodged in another person's leg," he said, adding that the victims were in a VIP area next to where Mr Hollande was speaking at the time. (https://www.rte.ie/news/2017/0228/856233-france-accidental-shooting/)
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