The interior of the ramparts of the City of the Popes, at the end of the day on Wednesday, was filled with hundreds of heavily armed police.
They came to surround the scene of a crime, Place Pie, in a small street in downtown Avignon, in the Vaucluse.
At around 6 p.m., one of their colleagues was shot dead while he was intervening around a deal point.
The shooter is still at large on Thursday.
Le Parisien takes stock of what we know about this tragedy, two weeks after the death of a police officer, this time in a terrorist attack.
Shots "on several occasions"
It was around 6.30 p.m., when Eric M., the victim, was sent with his crew to intervene "for a gathering on the public highway around a deal point", according to the statement of the ministry's press release. Interior. This place is considered by the authorities, explains Bruno Bartocetti, the union representative for the SGP-Police Grand Sud Unit, as "very sensitive in terms of drugs". On the spot, the crew in civilian clothes made up of five people checked the group present, noticed that a drug transaction was underway nearby and the officials put on their “police” armbands in order to put an end to it. But several of the protagonists then try to flee.
It was during this intervention that one of these members allegedly shot "several times" on the police officer, who collapsed.
The shooter then fled by seizing a scooter, according to a police source, while at least one of the colleagues of the targeted police officer tried to retaliate with his weapon, without succeeding in apprehending him.
The investigation was entrusted to the criminal brigade of the SRPJ (regional service of judicial police) of Montpellier.
According to Franceinfo, several police operations, in particular permitted thanks to CCTV images, were carried out during the night, in order to find the fugitive.
The victim, Eric M., was a 36-year-old police sergeant with two children. He died despite the intervention of his colleagues in the research and intervention group and the firefighters who tried to give him a cardiac massage. According to our information, he was notably shot in the chest. The group was returning from a legal operation in Carpentras and was finishing its service when it received a last call instructing it to go to a known place of deal, in order to put an end to a crowd. An intervention that seemed at first glance classic.
Eric M. was a police officer, just like his brother and sister, officiating them in Île-de-France.
The thirty-something had notably worked at the Chennevières Anti-Crime Brigade, in Val-de-Marne, before joining Avignon.
Camille Chaize, the spokesperson for the Ministry of the Interior, on Franceinfo hailed “the model career” of this sergeant, “from a family of police officers”.
"Our colleague, who was coming back from legal aid, checked a point of deal, a drug transaction which was taking place in front of his eyes, he therefore went into contact [...] and the author shot him", a also commented the spokesperson for the national police on BFMTV.
"A new tragedy" for the national police
On Twitter, Jean Castex also reacted to the tragedy by promising that "everything is done so that this heinous act does not go unpunished".
“The National Police is once again in mourning and with it all the personnel of the Ministry of the Interior.
Our thoughts are with the family, relatives and colleagues of the police officer killed this evening in intervention in Avignon, "said the institution on the social network, referring to" a new tragedy ", with" a broken family.
Very hard-hit colleagues ”.
"All interventions can be dangerous", also recalled this Thursday morning on CNews Laurent Nunez, the National Coordinator of intelligence and the fight against terrorism, recalling that the profession of police officer is "dangerous".
One of our police officers was fatally injured this evening in Avignon, while he was in intervention.
My first thoughts go to his loved ones and to the great family of the @PoliceNationale, again in mourning.
Everything is being done to ensure that this heinous act does not go unpunished.
- Jean Castex (@JeanCASTEX) May 5, 2021
"This war, we are waging it thanks to soldiers", judge Darmanin
This tragedy comes as the executive, and particularly the Ministry of the Interior, has made the fight against trafficking and the dismantling of deal points a national priority. During his speech in the evening, in the company of Frédéric Veaux, the Director General of the National Police (DGPN) - in this department which has seen a recent increase in drug trafficking, according to police and judicial officials interviewed by AFP - Gérald Darmanin has assumed this position: "The fight against drug trafficking, everywhere on the national territory, is akin to a war," he declared. We are waging this war thanks to soldiers, […] the police and gendarmes of France. Today, one of these soldiers died a hero. "
Today, one of the soldiers in the war we wage against drugs has died in combat, a hero.
We mourn him and think about his family, his two children.
This fight against drugs, we will continue it and we will win it.
- Gerald DARMANIN (@GDarmanin) May 5, 2021
According to the minister, who mentions "an increase of more than 30% of weapons seized during arrests in drug trafficking", "in the department of Vaucluse since January 1, it is 83 arrests for drug trafficking, c 'is more than 60 operations against the points of deal.
In a recent interview with Le Figaro, Emmanuel Macron had already claimed to want to make the eradication of drug trafficking "the mother of battles".
For her part, the socialist mayor of Avignon, Cécile Helle, estimated on Franceinfo that "we can clearly see that there is a step which has been taken with disrespect for the police and security", and called for "further strengthening the presence of the police on the ground as close as possible to the inhabitants".
Two weeks after the death of Stéphanie Montferme, the unions saddened
This new death in the ranks of the police comes almost two weeks after the assassination of Stéphanie Monfeture, a police officer killed with a knife in the police station of Rambouillet, in Yvelines, by a radicalized man. It aroused strong reactions from the police unions. For Synergie Officiers, “nothing justifies such barbarism”.
"We must punish with imprisonment accompanied by a committal warrant those who attack or kill police officers […], denounces this lax justice which modifies or reduces the sentences of these individuals who enjoy unlimited impunity", also rebelled Alliance national police. At the microphone of Franceinfo, Claude Simonetti, representative of Unit-SGP-FO in the department of Vaucluse, for his part considered that “the apprehension no longer exists. We come across determined, armed people. A banal control degenerates quickly, it is the daily life of the police officers ”.