In a jarring incident, an instructor at a French Catholic academy was callously murdered in front of startled students by one of their classmates who claimed to be “possessed by the devil”.
On Wednesday morning, 54-year-old Agnès Lassalle tragically lost her life when a 16-year-old student stabbed her in the heart during a Spanish lesson.
The accused, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, was faced with charges of premeditated murder and apprehended.
Ms. Lassalle, a long-time married staff member of Thomas Aquinas School in Saint-Jean-de-Luz with 26 years of tenure, experienced a short scream during the attack before crumpling onto the ground.
The assailant stood calmly over Ms. Lassalle’s corpse, brandishing the knife and sending other students into a frenzied escape.
Upon his apprehension, it was revealed that he had been relocated to Thomas Aquinas only the previous month due to being denied admission at other educational institutions because of his mental health issues.
In a staunch defense of the school’s Christian values, Bishop Marc Aillet of Bayonne stated: ‘He was looking for a new establishment and Saint Thomas Aquinas welcomed him.’
While witnesses to the massacre attested that they viewed the carnage soon after 10 am in this southwestern Atlantic French town, their accounts of horror left a lasting impression.
“He stuck a large knife in her chest without saying anything,” Ines, a 16-year-old student, expressed.
“I didn’t see him get up from his desk, but I saw him facing the teacher, and very calmly approach her.”
A student who witnessed the incident stated that the perpetrator “was normally very calm, but had been taking medication for stress”.
He stated: “We saw him take something out of his bag, an object surrounded by paper.
“Then he headed for the door. We thought he wanted to go to the bathroom. In fact, he blocked access.
“The teacher was then at the blackboard, near this door. He then turned around and struck a blow with what looked like a screwdriver, at the level of the throat. We heard a scream, then nothing.”
Law enforcement officials ultimately confirmed that the killer had used a knife to stab Ms Lassalle in her chest, resulting in her death.
In an instant, “immediate panic” throughout the room as “everyone tried to get out through a door” connecting them to another class.
“Others were so scared they were tempted to jump through the window. We did not know if all the students had been able to escape,” the pupil added.
“Before exiting, we saw the assailant remain standing, his weapon in his hand – he was holding it up.
“We passed a senior teacher in the hallway and we told him to run. Other classes had been alerted.
“Apparently, the students were quickly brought to safety. We wanted to get out of the campus – to get as far away as possible.”
A colleague states that Ms. Lassalle, who was wed without children and started teaching Spanish at the school in 1997, was “much loved and highly respected as a teacher.”
The esteemed Pap Ndiaye, France’s Education Minister, recently paid a visit to the school and said a “total of 90 pupils were receiving psychological counseling”.
On Thursday, Mr. Ndiaye ordained that French schools across the nation would observe a moment of silence at 3 pm in honor of Ms. Lassalle.
Bayonne prosecutors declared that a probe had been initiated for “premeditated murder” and the suspected perpetrator was taken into custody.
On October 16th, 2020, a tragic event took place near the school in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine – history and geography teacher Samuel Paty was brutally murdered when he was stabbed and beheaded. This heinous act marked a defining moment in our collective history that will never be forgotten.
The man responsible for the crime was 18-year-old Abdoullakh Anzorov, a Russian immigrant from Chechnya who did not survive his encounter with law enforcement after committing this abhorrent act.
Although Anzorov had no prior affiliation with Paty or the school he attended, the young man made a journey from Normandy to take the teacher’s life after watching an online clip uploaded by one of his student’s father. This enraged individual was infuriated that Paty showed images of Prophet Mohamed to children in class.