48 hours after the death of Eric Masson, this 36-year-old brigadier father of two, killed Wednesday during a trivial intervention on the sidelines of a deal point in downtown Avignon, the investigation is progressing while the police unions are calling for a "march" on May 19 in Paris.
“Our pain, our grief, our pain is immense.
Our anger too ”, wrote this Thursday to all the police officers of France, Frédéric Veaux, director general of the national police.
For their part, the investigators of the SRPJ of Montpellier seek to carefully reconstruct the puzzle of the crime scene.
But the absence of video surveillance, and the silence that reigns in the world of drug traffickers and its users make the investigations complex.
The policeman who accompanied the victim at the time of the facts keeps confused memories of the scene, he did not see the face of the shooter.
And the drug addict woman that the sergeant had checked is not very talkative for the moment in police custody.
DNA samples taken at the crime scene are being analyzed, as are ballistic research.
The murder weapon is said to be a short 36 caliber revolver, a rare weapon.
This Thursday, an autopsy was performed on the body of the victim.
VIDEO> Avignon: a police officer killed, the gunman on the run
Called Wednesday evening for disturbances by residents on a well-known “deal point” in the city, the police from the Vaucluse-Gard departmental intervention brigade, in civilian clothes, found the situation calm on their arrival, and decided, although at the end of their service, to carry out monitoring of the point of sale. It was after following up with his colleague the client of what looked like a drug transaction in a nearby street that the sergeant was shot dead.
While the consumer had just been arrested by the two police officers, "two individuals came forward [...] and one of the two, carrying a satchel, (them) asked what they were doing there", explained Philippe Guémas, the public prosecutor of Avignon.
"Eric Masson declined his status as a police officer and the individual took out his handgun and fired twice, hitting him in the chest and abdomen," continued the prosecutor, insisting that the two police officers had their police armband in their hands.
Four potential suspected local traffickers
Could the shooter have missed these props?
This is one of the three working hypotheses of the investigators.
"Either the murderer intentionally shot the brigadier, or he was unaware of his identity as a policeman because the latter did not show the armband, or in panic he did not see the brigadier's armband", explains a source close to the folder.
None of the three tracks would be ruled out for the moment.
What is certain is that the policeman was shot at point blank range before his colleague fired two shots in turn, without being able to prevent the shooter from running away with his accomplice.
Contrary to what has been said, the shooter never fled on a scooter.
The sergeant died on the spot a few minutes later.
Eric Masson was shot at point blank range.
AFP / DDSP 84
Since then, nearly a hundred investigators have taken turns day and night to find the two suspects on the run. This Friday evening, according to our information, the fugitives were not yet formally identified. According to the first investigations, the investigators would have acquired the certainty that the dealer, at the origin of the transaction with the client, would not be the drawer. “Photos and names of local petty traffickers have been irresponsibly tossed around on social media. It is not a question of the suspects but of potential witnesses and it is a serious obstacle to the investigation ”, deplores the same close to the investigation.
According to our information, the investigators, who have activated their networks of informers, have a list of four potential suspects, local traffickers.
The investigators benefit on the spot from the long-term work of the operational narcotics intelligence unit, a system put in place a few years ago to make the feedback of information from the police in the field more fluid and better cooperation between the services. .
In addition, all the surveillance videos of the city were requisitioned, in particular those outside the ramparts of the city of the Popes, more numerous than inside.
Thousands of hours that the investigators are watching ...
Read alsoPolice officer killed in Avignon: the anger and disgust of the police
In the streets of the tourist center, the authorities are still very present this Friday. In the morning, dozens of police prevent passers-by from accessing rue Râteau where the sergeant was killed. His family would indeed have liked to gather there out of sight. Since Wednesday evening, the flower bed and candles installed where it has fallen has grown from hour to hour and everyone comes discreetly to put a rose or a wreath before observing a minute of silence.
The emotion is always palpable in this family neighborhood where everyone knows each other. Near the famous “point of sale”, the starting point for the operation which turned into a tragedy, a man wipes away his tears by pulling on his cigarette. He says he witnessed the deal at the origin of the intervention of Eric Masson's crew: “Everyone knows this client in the neighborhood. But she is not a regular at this point of sale. She asked me if I didn't have 10 euros of cannabis resin. "
The man, who claims not to be a drug dealer, would have replied: "I don't sell, but if you wait a bit, someone will surely come." The transaction finally took place and led to the tragic outcome we know. With red eyes, the witness wonders: "If I had told him that nobody was selling around here, maybe all this would not have happened!" "