Officers from the National Police Force of the Gendarmerie were killed by a lone gunman in Puy-de-Dôme, west of Lyon, shortly after midnight on Wednesday. BFM reported that police officers were shot dead by a 48-year-old man while trying to save a woman who had taken refuge on the roof of a house.
In a statement from the French Interior Ministry, the three officers were appointed as lieutenant Cyril Morel, non-commissioned officer Rémi Dupuis and brigadier Arno Mavel, from the Puy-de-Dôme departmental gendarmerie.
“Called to intervene to help a woman beaten by her husband, the gendarmes (officers), in circumstances that have not yet been clarified, were shot by the man and returned fire,” the statement reads.
The statement said Mavel, 21, was seriously injured and succumbed to his injuries. The other two officers who were making a reconnaissance of the house were also caught under fire. Morel, 45, and Dupuis, 37, were mortally wounded. A fourth officer injured in the thigh is being cared for by the emergency services; his life is not in danger.
According to BFM, the alleged gunman set fire to the house after the shooting. The French news agency AFP quoted officials as saying that the woman had been rescued and that at least seven elite tactical police officers remained on the scene.
A manhunt continues in the area to locate the suspect.
Speaking to BFM, the mayor of Saint-Just Francois Chautard, who is in the department of Puy-de-Dôme, said the house was destroyed by fire.
“I don’t know what is in the rubble or if he managed to escape,” the mayor said, adding that the incident was “apparently an internal scene that went wrong.”
On Twitter, French Prime Minister Jean Castex wrote that “this tragedy affects us all and hurts the whole country.”