France's Interior Minister Manuel Valls described the shooting of 61-year-old Jacques Blondel, who tried to stop armed robbers getting away with their loot, as" a wake up call" to the nation on Friday.
Valls commended the bravery of the retired man who was shot dead infront of his wife and granddaughter in the town of Marignane, in the Bouches-du-Rhone area of the south of France on Thursday evening.
The deadly series of incidents began at around 6pm when two robbers broke in to a local shop in Marignane, making off with the cash register and a few boxes of cigarettes.
According to witnesses the thieves, believed to be in their 20s, fled on a scooter, but after a few hundred metres were stopped by Blondel, a retired Air France employee who had realised what had happened and tried to intervene.
The have-a-go hero who was returning from a day at the beach with his wife and their 15 month-old grand daughter deliberately crashed his car into the scooter, knocking the suspects of the vehicle and into the road, according to local newspaper La Provence.
Blondel then got out of his car and tried to spray the two robbers with pepper spray but before he could, one of the suspects pulled out a gun and opened fire. The 61-year-old man was shot twice at point blank range, in the thigh and abdomen, infront of his wife and granddaughter.
“I heard the scooter fall to the ground. I came out on to my balcony and saw him being shot,” a witness told newspaper La Provence.
Another witness told BFM TV: “I heard what sounded like a crash, a loud bang.”
A witness and friend of the victim said that it was the victim’s wife, a nurse, who had been in the car with him, who was the first person to attend to her husband’s wounds.
Although paramedics arrived quickly on the scene and transported the victim to the hospital, he later died from his wounds.
Following the shooting the “armed and hooded” suspects fled to nearby town Vitrolles, where they dumped some of their loot before finally abandoning their scooter in nearby Rocher, as well as the remainder of the stolen goods and the gun. They then continued on foot, La Parovence reports.
One of the suspcts was later caught and detained by police but the other suspect remains on the run.
"This is a wake up call against violence, against young delinquants who do not hesitate to kill, not only over territorial disputes, but who also killed a courageous man, a hero," said Valls.
"It's up to the justice system to deal out severe punishment for this cowardly and intolerable crime," he added. "I salute the courage of this man. What he did was an act of bravery that
"The flag of the Town Hall is flying at half mast in honour of the man, who paid with his life for an act of bravery," said the mayor.
"What he did was exceptional. For once someone stood up to criminals."
The mayor also called for the army to be sent in to catch the suspect who remains at large.
by Naomi Firsht