What we know about the violent knife attack in front of a college in Marseille

Investigators have put aside the terrorist hypothesis and are now looking into the psychological background of the attacker, in the grip of recent troubles according to his relatives.

The facts, of a rare violence, took place on Tuesday at the end of the afternoon. Near the Sévigné college in Marseille, in the heart of the Saint-Jérôme district of Marseille, a man was attacked with a knife for a reason that remains to be determined by the investigation opened by the city’s public prosecutor’s office in the evening. Supported by the emergency services, his condition is considered serious and his vital prognosis has been engaged.

• Violent aggression

The exact sequence of events has yet to be confirmed by the investigations. But according to the first findings of the police, the 23-year-old attacker attacked a father in his thirties who came to pick up his children from this school, for no apparent reason and to using a Swiss Army knife.

“He suddenly threw himself on him. He repeatedly used a stab on the student’s parent”, recounts on BFMTV Eddy Sid, delegate Unit SGP Police Force Ouvrière Marseille.

Several passers-by finally managed to subdue the attacker while waiting for the arrival of the police. It was difficult for him to be apprehended and taken into custody by the police. “The aggressor was very difficult to arrest,” says Eddy Sid.

• A victim chosen at random

The first elements of the investigation suggest that the victim was chosen at random. This father is a military doctor working at the Lavéran hospital, in civilian clothes at the time of the events.

Aged about 30, the man was hit in the chest and was in cardio-respiratory arrest and unconscious during his transport to the hospital, according to the marine firefighters who intervened on the spot. His vital prognosis was engaged Tuesday evening, according to the police.

“It is unfortunately an ultra-savage attack. The individual went directly towards the victim, threw himself on her to strike her several stab wounds. It took the intervention of local residents and police to arrest him. Fortunately, the BST (Specialized Field Brigade) was nearby to control him, not without difficulty, because he was in a crisis of dementia, “describes Eddy Sid again.

The portrait of the aggressor takes shape little by little. Aged 23, he has been described by his parents as subject to psychological problems for several weeks. He was under arrest for this reason, and had been missing for 48 hours.

According to several police sources, his remarks made at the time of the attack and the arrest were confused. The assailant, of French nationality, would indeed have declared before the investigators to have acted “in the name of God”. He would also have evoked “the devil”.

“The first witnesses let us think that the author of the facts had a dialogue, a completely mystical lexical field”, completes Eddy Sid.

• The terrorist hypothesis ruled out

A few hours after the attack, a search was carried out by the investigators at the home of the young man. Nothing was found there, and nothing stands out either on the side of potential religious radicalization. The attacker is unknown to the intelligence services but is however known to the TAJ, the processing of criminal records, for facts related to narcotics.

The terrorist hypothesis ruled out, the anti-terrorist prosecutor’s office was not seized and the investigation was entrusted to the Departmental Directorate of Public Security.

• Gérald Darmanin reacts to the attack

At the start of the evening, Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin reacted to the attack via his Twitter account. After confirming the arrest of the attacker, he greeted the patients and the police for their intervention.

“Thank you to the passers-by and the police services for their quick reaction,” he wrote.

Mélanie Vecchio, Dominique Rizet, with Hugo Septier

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