A Sudanese refugee has been arrested by police in France on suspicion of murdering three young men, including a minor, during a stabbing spree in the center of the western French city of Angers on early Saturday morning.
The attack reportedly took place around 3 a.m. local time on the Coeur de Maine promenade, French media reported. According to prosecutor Érik Bouillard, an initial theory that an argument took place over the volume of some music is not accurate, and eye-witness accounts suggest the victims were defending two young girls who were being sexually assaulted by the assailant.
On Sunday, the regional Le Courrier de l’Ouest newspaper reported the testimony of a young woman present at the scene who was friends with one of the victims. The young woman claimed the assailant had tried to “touch the breasts of a young woman and put a knife to her throat,” prompting the intervention of the young men.
“She told him (the attacker) that he had no right to do this,” the young woman said of her friend. “He told him to go away, but the guy didn’t want to leave, and he stuck the knife in his chest.”
Authorities arrived quickly on the scene and arrested a 32-year-old Sudanese suspect who remains in police custody.
“Police first intervened around 1 a.m,” after receiving a call from a young girl who was being harassed by the suspect, the prosecutor told AFP. “However, when the police arrived, the man was gone, and it was calm,” he added.
A little later, he “came back and was quite clearly treated with hostility by the group … He then returns a third time and approaches the group, this time with a knife,” the prosecutor explained.
The assailant allegedly injured at least six people during the attack. Manolito and Atama, two young rugby players from the Angers club, and Ishmael, the youngest of the victims, died at the scene despite the best efforts of emergency responders, while three others were injured in the attack.
“The suspect is currently hospitalized and in custody, but he is not in a condition to testify at this time,” Bouillard added.
According to the FranceInfo network, the Sudanese suspect is a political refugee and was already known to the police. He is registered in the criminal file for drunken driving, violence, and property damage. At the time of his arrest, the man initially gave a false identity.