French high school shooter was fascinated with Columbine massacre

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon

PARIS, March 16 (Reuters) - The French student who shot his headmaster and pupils in his high school in southeastern France on Thursday was fascinated with the 1999 Columbine massacre in the United States, his social media profiles showed.

The 16-year old son of an ultra-conservative local councilor in the Mediterranean town of Grasse, world famous as a center for perfume production, updated his Facebook profile three days ago with the photo of a zombie-like skeleton in a long leather coat, carrying two assault weapons.

Armed with a shotgun, handguns, a grenade and possibly a homemade explosive device, he barged into his school, shooting his principal who tried to intervene as he went through the school's hallways.

19 PHOTOS
French high school shooting
See Gallery
French high school shooting

People embrace near the Tocqueville high school after a shooting has taken place injuring at least eight people, in Grasse, southern France, March 16, 2017.

(REUTERS/Eric Gaillard)

Police inside the Tocqueville high school after a shooting has taken place injuring at least eight people, in Grasse, southern France, March 16, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Eric Gaillard)

Police inside the Tocqueville high school after a shooting has taken place injuring at least eight people, in Grasse, southern France, March 16, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Eric Gaillard)

Members of special Police units RAID outside the Tocqueville high school after a shooting incident injuring at least eight people, in Grasse, southern France, March 16, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Eric Gaillard)

High school students stand near the Tocqueville high school after a shooting incident injuring at least eight people, in Grasse, southern France, March 16, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Eric Gaillard)

French firefighters evacuate a woman near the Tocqueville high school after a shooting incident injuring at least eight people, in Grasse, southern France, March 16, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Eric Gaillard)

Police inside the Tocqueville high school after a shooting has taken place injuring at least eight people, in Grasse, southern France, March 16, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Eric Gaillard)

View of the Tocqueville high school after a shooting has taken place injuring at least eight people, in Grasse, southern France, March 16, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Eric Gaillard)

Police inside the Tocqueville high school after a shooting has taken place injuring at least eight people, in Grasse, southern France, March 16, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Eric Gaillard)

Firefighters stand near people acompanying a person in a wheelchair near the Tocqueville high school in the southern French town of Grasse, on March 16, 2017 following a shooting that left eight people injured. At least eight people were injured in a shooting at a high school in the southern French town of Grasse on March 16, 2017 which saw the head teacher targeted, police and local authorities said. One 17-year-old pupil armed with a rifle, two handguns and two grenades was arrested after the shooting at the Tocqueville high school, a police source told AFP, asking not to be named.

(VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images)

A member of the RAID (Search, Assistance, Intervention, Deterrence) French police unit stands near the Tocqueville high school in the southern French town of Grasse, on March 16, 2017 following a shooting that left eight people injured. At least eight people were injured in a shooting at a high school in the southern French town of Grasse on March 16, 2017 which saw the head teacher targeted, police and local authorities said. One 17-year-old pupil armed with a rifle, two handguns and two grenades was arrested after the shooting at the Tocqueville high school, a police source told AFP, asking not to be named.

(VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images)

Members of the RAID (Search, Assistance, Intervention, Deterrence) French police unit walk as policemen stand at the Tocqueville high school in the southern French town of Grasse, on March 16, 2017 following a shooting that left eight people injured. At least eight people were injured in a shooting at a high school in the southern French town of Grasse on March 16, 2017 which saw the head teacher targeted, police and local authorities said. One 17-year-old pupil armed with a rifle, two handguns and two grenades was arrested after the shooting at the Tocqueville high school, a police source told AFP, asking not to be named.

(VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images)

French emergency medical services SAMU members stand in the southern French town of Grasse, on March 16, 2017 near the Tocqueville high school following a shooting that left eight people injured. At least eight people were injured in a shooting at a high school in the southern French town of Grasse on March 16, 2017 which saw the head teacher targeted, police and local authorities said. One 17-year-old pupil armed with a rifle, two handguns and two grenades was arrested after the shooting at the Tocqueville high school, a police source told AFP, asking not to be named.

(VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images)

French emergency medical services SAMU members walk in the southern French town of Grasse, on March 16, 2017 near the Tocqueville high school following a shooting that left eight people injured. At least eight people were injured in a shooting at a high school in the southern French town of Grasse on March 16, 2017 which saw the head teacher targeted, police and local authorities said. One 17-year-old pupil armed with a rifle, two handguns and two grenades was arrested after the shooting at the Tocqueville high school, a police source told AFP, asking not to be named.

(VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images)

People stand outside a police security cordon as a French policeman walks near the Tocqueville high school in the southern French town of Grasse, on March 16, 2017 following a shooting that left two people injured. At least two people were injured in a shooting at a high school in the southern French town of Grasse on March 16, 2017 which saw the head teacher targeted, police and local authorities said. One 17-year-old pupil armed with a rifle, two handguns and two grenades was arrested after the shooting at the Tocqueville high school, a police source told AFP, asking not to be named.

(VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images)

A French Policeman wearing a bulletproof jacket controls traffic on a road near the Tocqueville high school in the southern French town of Grasse, on March 16, 2017 following a shooting that left two people injured. At least two people were injured in a shooting at a high school in the southern French town of Grasse on March 16, 2017 which saw the head teacher targeted, police and local authorities said. One 17-year-old pupil armed with a rifle, two handguns and two grenades was arrested after the shooting at the Tocqueville high school, a police source told AFP, asking not to be named.

(VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images)

People gather near the Tocqueville high school in the southern French town of Grasse, on March 16, 2017 following a shooting that left eight people injured. At least eight people were injured in a shooting at a high school in the southern French town of Grasse on March 16, 2017 which saw the head teacher targeted, police and local authorities said. One 17-year-old pupil armed with a rifle, two handguns and two grenades was arrested after the shooting at the Tocqueville high school, a police source told AFP, asking not to be named.

(VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images)

A policewoman talks with pupils near the Tocqueville high school in the southern French town of Grasse, on March 16, 2017 following a shooting that left eight people injured. At least eight people were injured in a shooting at a high school in the southern French town of Grasse on March 16, 2017 which saw the head teacher targeted, police and local authorities said. One 17-year-old pupil armed with a rifle, two handguns and two grenades was arrested after the shooting at the Tocqueville high school, a police source told AFP, asking not to be named.

(VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images)

HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

"The first investigations suggest he had consulted videos of mass killings in America," Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet told reporters.

The background photo of the young man's YouTube page shows a picture of the Columbine shooting and posts a link to American rapper Ill Bill's song "The Anatomy Of A School Shooting."

His Facebook page carries several violent and morbid pictures, screenshots of a video of the Columbine shooting and a video of a man with a ghoulish mask shooting an unloaded handgun at the audience and then shooting himself in the head.

France's BFM TV station reported he had posted a photo last week of several young people lying in a pool of blood on a Facebook group for his class at the Lycee Alexis de Tocqueville.

When his classmates told him this was not funny and that they were shocked, he reportedly said it was "just a joke."

Jean-Rene Laget, a member of the same small right-wing party as the youth's father, told Reuters that as far as he knew the young man had never caused any trouble before.

Grasse prosecutor Fabienne Atzori told reporters that the teenager had difficulties integrating in the school and had bad relations with some of his classmates.

Fellow student Achraf told BFM TV said the gunman was "not a nasty guy" and hinted that he had been bullied by classmates.

"I think it is the persecutions, that is why he blew a fuse," he said.

Atzori, who said the teenager could not be named as he was a minor, said he had initially burst into a school classroom carrying weapons and looking for specific students.

After failing to find them, he left the room only to be accosted by the headmaster, who had been alerted to his presence. At that point, he shot the school principal in the shoulder and a student in the stomach.

Police arrived quickly and he put up no resistance when he was arrested.

"This was a crazy act by a fragile young man fascinated by firearms," Education Minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem told reporters.

(Editing by Tom Heneghan)

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.

From Our Partners

No One Can Explain This Frightening Footage That Just Surfaced - And People Are Freaking No One Can Explain This Frightening Footage That Just Surfaced - And People Are Freaking
This Photographer Brilliantly Documented Crime on the Mean Streets of New York City This Photographer Brilliantly Documented Crime on the Mean Streets of New York City
Girl's Dad Brings Home A Strange Puppy - But Quickly Realizes It's Not Really A Dog At All Girl's Dad Brings Home A Strange Puppy - But Quickly Realizes It's Not Really A Dog At All