In the dark night of a hamlet in Puy-de-Dôme, lightning slices through the darkness. Posted at the embrasure of a window with his AR-15 rifle, Frédérik Limol, 48, fatally touches Brigadier Mavel and wounds Chief Warrant Officer Boyon in the thigh, called upon at 8:52 p.m. for a common case of domestic violence. Hidden in the garden of his house in the throes of flames, Frédérik Limol opens fire again at 10:45 p.m. Lieutenant Morel and Warrant Officer Dupuis fall under his silent bullets. In five minutes, three gendarmes died. Taking advantage of the darkness, the killer flees by car, travels a few hundred meters and, without leaving the slightest message to explain his murderous madness, shoots himself in the head.
Six months after this tragic December 23, 2020, the gendarmes of the Clermont-Ferrand research section are preparing to complete their investigations.
Through 120 hearings of witnesses, friends, colleagues or relatives of Frédérik Limol, they retraced the slow drift of an overarmed and radicalized man, between survivalist impulses and self-destructive paranoia.
The companion, yet victim of violence, suspected of having helped to ambush
Wondering about possible logistical or intellectual support from which the killer could have benefited, the investigators also, according to our information, discreetly placed two of his relatives in police custody in recent weeks.
Their profile holds surprises.
Tuesday June 1, it is Sandrine S., the companion of Limol, who was arrested and heard 36 hours as a suspect.
The gendarmes wondered about a possible ambush… On the evening of the tragedy, in fact, victim of domestic violence, Sandrine S. had sent an alarmist message to a friend and then guided the soldiers to the couple's home, without clearly warning them that his companion was armed.
The investigators questioned the sincerity of this call.
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The investigations showed that Sandrine S. shared the radical and survivalist ideas of her companion. Above all, the arsenal of Limol - around thirty long guns and fists - was able to be constituted thanks to his companion, who had embarked on sport shooting at his request and had bought some of the equipment. Including the rifle and bullets used on the evening of the carnage.
In police custody, Sandrine S. admitted to having felt that her husband was going to commit a violent action soon, describing an “anger” rising in him, but denied having had knowledge that he was going to kill gendarmes that evening. She also denies any complicity. This mother of two daughters came out free without prosecution. "It served as logistical support by helping it to build up its stock of weapons," said someone close to the investigation. But she was caught in a sort of Stockholm syndrome and fulfilled her desires to avoid violence, which was real, and to feel recognized. She was under control. "" I am amazed that one places in police custody a woman victim of a scene of great violence, denounces Me Pierre de Combles de Nayves, his lawyer. This is a very bad signal sent to victims of domestic violence.In May, a friend of the killer, also a survivalist, had also been taken into custody without him being worried either at this stage. Limol would have acted alone.
The investigation was also unable to establish any premeditation despite disturbing elements.
For example, the killer had trapped his vehicle with a rifle before attacking the gendarmes ... In his flight, he also deliberately set fire to a room in his house of which he had exclusive use and which contained weapons, food to last a year, but also documents and computer equipment ... Was this fire intended to erase the traces of preparations for its taking action?
Completely destroyed, no phone or computer could in any case be used by the investigators.
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Despite this desire for concealment, the 120 testimonies collected by the gendarmes made it possible to reconstruct the process of radicalization of Frédérik Limol.
A brilliant student at an engineering school, he lost his mother quite young and built himself up in opposition to his father, a very religious, demanding and sometimes violent soldier.
Senior executive at the construction giant Lafarge, Limol is affable, charismatic, but capable of violent reactions to defend his radical ideas, a mixture of anti-immigration, anti-globalization and masculinist discourse ...
Survivalism and collapsology, the fatal cocktail
In this multinational, he met Sandrine S. in 2009. They form a relationship marked by a strong Catholic religiosity, but the violence of Limol separates them for the first time. He denies his faith, considering that God cannot help him, and arms himself, fearing a collapse of this society where he does not find his place. He refuses to vaccinate or educate the daughter he had with another woman ...
Frédérik Limol's collapsology becomes unhealthy when he finds Sandrine S. in 2017. Sharing this same desire to cut himself off from the “system”, they resign, put themselves on the margins and withdraw from the materialist world.
Limol closes his partner's bank accounts, embarks on woodworking, Sandrine in beekeeping.
But this return to nature comes with a darker turn.
A sports shooter since 2013, Frédérik Limol leads Sandrine in this passion, buys more and more weapons, ammunition, stores cans and freeze-dried food ... After her death, the GIGN will also discover several dozen survival rations and thousands of ammunition in his vehicle.
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If he does not seem to have had direct contact with the conspiratorial movement, Frédérik Limol is drinking conspiratorial theses.
He appreciates the videos of Alexis Cossette-Trudel, a Quebec Youtuber close to the QAnon movement who denounces the “health dictatorship”.
According to our information, the pandemic also marks a turning point in its drift.
"The announcement of the vaccination campaign in December provokes an explosion of anger in him, slips another source.
He convinces himself of an apocalypse.
For him, vaccines are dangerous, they are an intimate intrusion.
He castigates the leaders of the public sphere and maintains a hatred of the police, which he sees as the armed wing of power.
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This tragic cocktail reached its peak on December 23, at the heart of a new confinement very badly experienced by Limol. The forty-year-old gets drunk and yet another, originally confused argument breaks out with Sandrine S. But that evening, despite the influence and the habit of taking the blows, Sandrine S. takes fright and alerts the gendarmes. The rest is tragic, well known, but retains a part of mystery. Magistrates and investigators suspect strong psychiatric disorders. "We will never know the bottom of Limol's thoughts that evening but we can think that he would have committed a violent action anyway one day or another, underlines a connoisseur of the case. He took his secrets with him. "And the life of three gendarmes with it.