Gun fired on French TGV: Off-duty police officer onboard subdues man

The plain-clothes officer was travelling on a special police discount scheme and so had his weapon with him

Shots were fired but no one was injured during the incident
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A plain-clothes police officer was able to subdue and arrest a violent passenger onboard a high-speed TGV train yesterday (July 13) – despite the man grabbing his service gun and firing two shots.

The incident happened on a Milan-Annecy-Paris train when a passenger became increasingly violent, trying to pry open the train doors and using the window-breaker hammer to start destroying the train.

The off-duty officer – travelling as part of a special discount programme between the SNCF and police officers – attempted to intervene, before the man attacked him, leading to a conflict between the two.

During the fight, the attacker managed to steal the police officer’s gun and fired two shots.

The officer managed to prevent the assailant from harming anybody with the weapon, directing the shots onto the train’s floor.

After the gun went off, the officer pushed it away from the attacker, and with the help of other passengers subdued and arrested him.

No injuries were reported by the SNCF or police, although psychological assistance has been offered to those present on the train at the time.

Read also: Fare dodgers get stuck in toilet hiding from inspectors on French TGV

What is the Voyager-Protéger programme?

The off-duty officer was travelling on the train as part of the government’s voyager-protéger scheme.

It sees police officers able to travel at a greatly reduced rate – and in some cases even for free – in exchange for carrying their service weapon with them and helping the SNCF staff in the event of a passenger disturbance.

When boarding the train they let the ticket inspector know who they are and where they are sitting, so they can quickly be contacted in an emergency.

The scheme was introduced around 18 months ago, and since the beginning of 2023, 37 interceptions by police officers using the service have been made.

Over 150,000 journeys have been made by plainclothes officers taking advantage of the discount since its introduction.

“Thank you to the off-duty police officer who courageously intervened on this train to stop a threatening individual", tweeted Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin after the incident.

What happened during yesterday’s train journey?

The Chalon-sur-Saône public prosecutor's office gave a press conference after the incident releasing some details.

The individual – a man in his 30s – became increasingly aggressive during the ride, attempting to force open the train’s doors, and was said to be armed with a knife.

Just after stopping at Mâcon station, passengers noticed a man whose hands “were covered in blood” coming out of the corridor between carriages. He had smashed some windows with his bare hands according to passengers.

The ticket inspector was quickly alerted and made contact with the police officer, who moved towards the carriage with the man.

The individual – who did not speak French – then attacked the officer, taking his gun from him.

Due to the officer’s quick reactions, the gun was facing downwards and despite the attacker pulling the trigger twice, the shots harmlessly hit the floor of the train.

“There was shouting. We all lay down between the seats because we were afraid he was going to get into the carriage,” said one passenger.

“I was on the phone with my husband, he heard the shots [and] he told me: 'you stay on the ground, you don't move',” she added.

After the gun was placed out of the man’s reach, the officer and nearby passengers helped in subduing the man, leading to his arrest and removal from the train at the next station (Creusot), where on-duty officers took him into custody.

“They asked for belts from people who had them on them, and we gave them three or four belts to try and control him, but it was complicated,” added the passenger.

“Thanks to them, we avoided catastrophe,” she said.

A train was sent out to pick up the passengers for the remainder of the trip as the train where the gun was fired will be used as evidence for the investigation against the individual.

The man will be under investigation for the attempted murder of a public official.

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