Unknown assailant opens fire on Ozar Hatorah school in Toulouse, kills three children, one adult; several others wounded

An unknown assailant opened fire on a Jewish school in Toulouse Monday, killing at least four people and injuring five.

According to initial details, a man riding on a motorcycle opened fire on the Ozar Hatorah School at arond 8:10 am, as the students were arriving for the school day, and then fled the scene. The shooter reportedly used two weapons, one of which was automatic.

The incident claimed the lives of Rabbi Jonathan Sandler, 30, his 3-year-old and 6-year-old sons Gabriel and Arieh and the school headmaster’s 8-year-old daughter. A 17-year-old has been seriously injured.

“The gunman shot everything in front of him, children and adults,” French Prosecutor Michel Valet said. “He chased the kids into the school.”

The school’s rabbi and the headmaster’s daughter are believed to be among the casualties. Three of the injured are in serious condition.

ZAKA’s Paris headquarters have sent delegates to the school to assist authorities.

French Interior Minister Claude Gueant is making his way to the scene and French President Nicolas Sarkozy is also said to be making his way to Toulouse.

Sarkozy called the shootings an “abominable drama and a “frightening tragedy.”

Paris has ordered to increase surveillance and protection of Jewish institutions across France. French anti-terrorism prosecutors announced that they will investigate the shooting.

Patrick Rouimi, of the school’s parent teacher association, said that the shooter fired on people waiting at a pickup point near the school. Local media reported that the victims were Israeli nationals who immigrated to France earlier this year.

The Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem issued a statement saying that Israel was “horrified” by the attack.

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Yigal Palmor, expressed outrage at the killings: “We are following with great shock reports coming from Toulouse and we trust the French authorities will solve this crime and bring those responsible to justice,” he said.

Chief Rabbi of France Gilles Bernheim expressed the Jewish community’s horror at the incident as well.

The shooting happened in the same region where a gunman on a motorbike opened fire on three uniformed paratroopers at a bank machine Thursday, killing two and critically wounding the other.

The attack in the town of Montauban occurred not far from the soldiers’ barracks. Four days earlier, a gunman on a motorbike shot and killed another paratrooper in Toulouse, about 30 miles away.

Authorities said at the time that forensic analysis showed that the same weapon was used in the shootings in Montauban and Toulouse.

French Ambassador to Israel Christophe Bigot told Ynet that he was “shocked and horrified to learn of this barbaric act in Toulouse. We all want to express our solidarity with the Jewish community in Toulouse. This issues is taken to heart at the gravest levels.

“President Sarkozy and Ministry Gueant are flying to Toulouse and they will meet with the Jewish community leader.

“We of course want to express our empathy to the victims and assure our commitment to the safety of the Jewish community in France. We will find the man behind this barbaric act.”

The Conference of European Rabbis issued a statement saying the shooting was was a “barbaric event,” adding that the Jewish community will not be threatened.

France has Europe’s largest Jewish community, estimated at up to 700,000 people.

Story via YnetNews