Police officers found the girl hiding among the dead bodies of a man and two
women, thought to include her parents and grandmother, after being called to
the massacre in the Haute-Savoie region.
Eric Maillaud, the Annecy prosecutor, said that when forensic officers began a
detailed examination they found the girl who had remained hiding, silently,
in terror, for up to eight hours.
"When the investigators got into the car they discovered a little girl,
who was frozen still and uninjured," he said.
"She could not tell the difference between the good guys and bad guys.
She spontaneously began to smile and speak in English when the policeman
took her in his arms and pulled her out of the car."
He added: "The little girl spoke English. She had heard the noises, the
cries but she couldn't say more, she is only four years old."
A seven-year-old girl, assumed to be part of the same family group, was
discovered lying on the road in a critical condition near the BMW people
carrier, while a male cyclist, who had also suffered gunshot wounds, was
also found dead close by.
The older girl had been airlifted to hospital and was said to be in a stable
condition at Grenoble University Hospital.
A French newspaper reported she was shot and brutally beaten before being left
for dead with a fractured skull, nine miles from where the family had been
camping at Le Solitaire du Lac campsite in Saint Jorioz.
Police are unsure when they will be able to question the girl, who was in a
state of shock.
Officers said the younger girl had remained undiscovered for eight hours "due
The source explained: "The crime scene was kept frozen until forensics
experts arrived from Paris during the night.
"This meant that the dead bodies had to remain in the place where they
fell. The little girl was well hidden under her mother’s legs, and clearly
was in a state of shock."
The identity of the victims "remains to be verified", Mr Maillaud
The site reported a family including parents and a grandmother missing.
French media reported the father, thought to be in his 50s, was in the front
of the BMW while the two women were in the back of the car.
"The three bodies found in the car could be the father, mother and
grandmother," said Benoit Vinnemann, Lieutenant Colonel in the Chambery
gendarmes . "In any case, that is the make-up of the British family
described by the campsite who reported them missing on Wednesday night."
Lt. Col Vinnemann said: "The main witness, a cyclist who discovered the
grisly scene, said he was overtaken by another cyclist on the climb that
leads to the parking lot where the shooting took place.
"Arriving there, he found the cyclist on the ground with gunshot wounds
near a car. In the vehicle, a man and two women, has also been shot. On the
other side of the car, a child of 6-8 years old was alive. He placed her in
the recovery position until help arrived. She had been very badly beaten."
Mr Maillaud confirmed the victims were British and said the main theory was
that the attack was a crime gone wrong but said "a family drama cannot
"The owner, the driver of the vehicle, is established as a British
citizen. For the others, presumably his family, it remains to be seen,"
the prosecutor said.
"He had left his passport details at the Saint-Jorioz campsite."
Later, it emerged there had been two attempted car-jackings by an armed gang
50 miles away on the same night. Police were investigating links between the
attempted thefts and the shooting.
Detectives found 15 spent bullet casings from an automatic gun at the scene of
The shooting happened in a tree-lined car park near the picturesque village of
Chevaline, a popular destination for holiday-makers and tourists.
British consular staff arrived in Grenoble this morning and were making their
way to the scene to liaise with French authorities, an FCO spokesman said.
Didier Berthollet, the mayor of Chevaline, told a local newspaper that “the
victims were not from the village”.
He added: “We have never seen such horror on our doorsteps before. The police
have interviewed everyone in the village hoping to find a witness. There are
only 70 homes, so it didn’t take them long.”
Earlier this summer the Foreign Office warned British tourists driving on the
Continent that they were regarded as “easy targets” by gangs which staged
accidents to make them stop before robbing them. A French police officer
said: “It’s the time of year, the thieves go for tourists who they see as
France recently tightened its laws on illegal firearms amid a worrying rise in
the use of guns by criminals. In July a gunman using an assault rifle shot
dead two people and injured five at a nightclub in Lille after being turned
In March, Mohammed Merah, who claimed to be linked to al-Qaeda, killed four
people at a Jewish school and three soldiers in southern France. He was
killed after a 32-hour siege in Toulouse.
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