Toulouse hostage-taker gunman charged and detained

The young man took four people hostage in a PMU bar-tabac along this row of shops in Blagnac, near Toulouse

A young man who took four women hostage in a bar-tabac in Blagnac near Toulouse (Haute-Garonne, Occitanie) has been charged and detained pending judgement, prosecutors have confirmed.

Known as Yanis, the 17-year-old local took four women hostage in the PMU bar-tabac on Tuesday last week (May 7).

Armed with a gun, which he shot into the air and at police, he was also wearing a helmet fitted with a Go Pro camera. All of the hostages were later freed and unharmed, and the perpetrator arrested.

Jean-Baptiste Dulion, head of the special forces police unit RAID, which is trained in hostage negotiation and managed the incident this week, said: “It was a delicate operation [and required] a long negotiation to bring him back to reason and arrest him peacefully. Everything went well in the end.”

In letters left at his home, the boy’s motives appear to be connected to his own perception of the gilets jaunes protest movement. The incident was not described as terrorism.

One letter reportedly said: “Sorry for doing this...but if I do not do it, no-one will move...So I will do whatever I can to ensure that the gilets jaunes win their battle”.

He has been charged with "kidnapping several hostages in order to execute an order or condition, and the offences of conditional death threats, violence with weapons without a licence, and carrying category D weapons", the magistrate confirmed.

Toulouse prosecutor Dominique Alzeari said: “It appears that the hostage-taker claims to belong to a group of activists from the gilets jaunes movement, who - through this kind of action - claim to want to increase media coverage and put pressure on the authorities [to act].”

However, Mr Alzeari added that there was no concrete "evidence to corroborate the existence of such a group”, and added that the boy’s letters did not indicate that he had planned further attacks or incidents beyond this.

Now in police custody, he will be investigated and judged imminently.

The perpetrator was already known to police due to previous offences, including theft and violence, and his participation in a gilets jaunes protest in December, which led to his arrest.

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