Noise complaints were at the centre of a dispute between neighbours that exploded into violence on Saturday (June 10) evening, a French prosecutor has said.
It saw a man open fire at a property in the Brittany district hamlet of Saint-Herbot.
Solaine Thornton, 11, was killed. Her parents were also shot, with father Adrian fighting for his life in hospital. Her mother, Rachel, is also hospitalised but her injuries are reported to be less serious.
“The couple [arrested in relation to the incident] blamed their British neighbours for work involving repeated and increasingly unbearable noise pollution,” Camille Miansoni, the public prosecutor for Brest, told a press conference on Monday (June 12).
On the afternoon of June 10, the day of the tragedy, the father of the victim had "carried out gardening work on his hedge", added Mr Miansoni.
This, he said, led a 71-year-old man to grab a rifle and fire “three to four shots” at his neighbours.
The attacker was reported to have returned to his home immediately after the incident, and after a short siege involving local forces and the groupe d'intervention de la gendarmerie nationale (GIGN), was arrested alongside his wife.
The pair, said Mr Miansoni, tested positive for alcohol and cannabis at the time of their detention.
The man has been charged with murder and attempted murder.
Solaine was a ‘truly radiant girl’
Adrian Thornton, 50, is fighting for his life in intensive care, according to Mr Miansoni, and Rachel, 49, is also in hospital.
Solaine’s younger sister, who miraculously escaped the shooting to raise the alarm, is being treated for shock in a paediatric unit.
Locals have paid tribute to the family.
“We knew the family well. There is a village fête every year and they always came,” said Marguerite Bleuzen, mayor of Plonévez-du-Faou (the area where the hamlet is located).
“It’s completely incomprehensible to have shot a child… Nobody can understand how this could have happened,” she added.
At a school in nearby Huelgoat, emotions were running high on Monday.
"Solaine was my daughter's best friend," one mother told local newspaper Le Telegramme.
“They were in the same class, in sixth grade. It was her big sister who told her the sad news yesterday afternoon. She had learned of it via friends shortly before.
“Since then my daughter hasn't stopped crying when we talk about this drama. Solaine was very nice. A truly radiant girl. Everything was going well for her. She was to participate this Tuesday in an end-of-year picnic outing. Hearts are really heavy.”