Crime and Safety

French teacher stabbed to death in classroom by ‘possessed’ 16-year-old student: police

Officials said a 16-year-old French high school student who claims he is “possessed” and hears voices stabbed to death his Spanish teacher in class on Wednesday.

The deadly attack took place at St. Thomas Aquinas, a private Catholic school in Saint-Jean-de-Luz, an elite resort town in southwestern France.

The victim was a 54-year-old teacher identified by French news outlets as Agnes Lassalle.

Bayonne prosecutor Jerome Bourier said the teen suspect was taken into custody and questioned by investigators on Wednesday.

A criminal case has been opened on the fact of premeditated murder.

Bourrier added that the 16-year-old student had no prior interaction with the police or the justice system.

French teacher stabbed to death in classroom by ‘possessed’ 16-year-old student: police
Police officers at Saint Thomas Aquinas Catholic High School in Saint-Jean-de-Luz.
AFP via Getty Images

A student takes comfort as she leaves Saint Thomas d'Aquin High School in Saint-Jean-de-Luz, southwest France, February 22, 2023.
About 90 students at the school, as well as several teachers, received psychological help after being fatally stabbed.

A senior government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said early details released by police suggest the teen has serious mental health issues.

After being stabbed, the boy, whose name has not been publicly released, allegedly told another teacher that he was possessed and heard voices ordering him to kill his teacher.

According to local newspaper Sud Ouest, two students who witnessed the stabbings said the suspect got up and walked to the door before turning around and plunging a large knife into the teacher’s chest.

A police officer guards the entrance to a private Catholic school next to a bouquet of flowers.
Authorities said a 16-year-old boy, who claims to be possessed and hear voices, stabbed his Spanish teacher, Agnes Lassalle, 54, in a classroom.

Spectators gather at the entrance to the school of Saint-Thomas d'Aquin.
Students who witnessed the attack said the suspect was calm and said nothing as he plunged the knife into the teacher’s chest.
AFP via Getty Images

Other witnesses who spoke to the press said the underage attacker appeared calm and said nothing.

French Education Minister Pape Ndiaye, speaking at the school, said that about 90 students, including those who witnessed the bloody attack, as well as some teachers, are receiving psychological help.

On Thursday afternoon, a minute of silence will be observed in all French schools in honor of Lassalle. The teacher has been working at the school since 1997.

Bayonne prosecutor Jérôme Bourrier speaks to the press at the high school Saint-Thomas d'Aquin.
Bayonne prosecutor Jerome Bourier said the investigation is ongoing.
AFP via Getty Images

“There was no reason to think that such a terrible tragedy could happen here. It is a very calm school, known for its seriousness and serenity,” said Ndiaye.

With mail wires

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