Have-a-go hero granddad shot dead by burglars

A man in his sixties died in hospital on Thursday night after he was shot infront of his wife and granddaughter, as he attempted to thwart armed robbers in the seaside town of Marignane. A French minister said the death was a "wake up call".

Have-a-go hero granddad shot dead by burglars
Have-a-go hero grandad shot by police. Photo: Lionel Bonaventure/AFP

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

commands respect," 

The mayor of Marignane, Eric Le Dissès, also paid tribute to the victim for the bravery he showed.

"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

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Italian killer with mafia links arrested in France after 16 years on the run

A convicted murderer linked to one of Italy's most powerful mafia organisations was arrested on Thursday in central France, Interpol said.

Italian killer with mafia links arrested in France after 16 years on the run

Edgardo Greco, 63, is suspected of belonging to the notorious ‘Ndrangheta, a powerful mafia organisation in Calabria, southern Italy.

He is wanted in Italy to serve a life sentence for the murders of Stefano and Giuseppe Bartolomeo, and accused of the attempted murder of Emiliano Mosciaro “as part of a mafia war between the Pino Sena and Perna Pranno gangs that marked the early 1990s”, Interpol said.

The Bartolomeo brothers were beaten to death with iron bars in a fish warehouse, Italian police said.

Greco’s arrest in central France came with help for Italy and France from the “Cooperation against ‘Ndrangheta Project” (I-CAN) run by Interpol, which facilitates police cooperation between its 195 member states.

READ ALSO: Italian police seize €250 million and arrest 56 in latest mafia blitz

Italian Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi, quoted in Interpol’s statement, said the arrests demonstrated his country’s commitment to “fighting all forms of organised crime and locating dangerous fugitives”.

The ‘Ndrangheta is considered Italy’s most extensive and powerful mafia group, Interpol said, operating worldwide and with strong ties to the trade in cocaine bound for Europe from South America

I-CAN’s job is help raise awareness of ‘Ndrangheta and their modus operandi, sharing police information to dismantle their networks and operations, the agency said.

The arrest of Greco, who worked in the evenings in a pizza restaurant under an assumed named according to Italian media, came a week after Italian police said it had dismantled a ‘Ndrangheta mafia ring dominating a large area of southern Calabria and seized assets exceeding 250 million euros.

Fifty-six people, many already in prison, were put under criminal investigation for a series of crimes including mafia-related conspiracy, extortion, kidnapping, bribery and possession of weapons, police and prosecutors said.

The arrest of Greco comes just over two weeks after Italian police arrested one of the most notorious bosses of the Sicilian Cosa Nostra mafia, Matteo Messina Denaro, who had been on the run for 30 years.

The 60-year-old was arrested after visiting a health clinic where he was being treated in the Sicilian capital Palermo