Ed wrote yesterday about the ISIS-inspired terrorist who took over a supermarket in France. What wasn’t know at the time was the incredible heroism shown by one French police officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Arnaud Beltrame, who traded himself for a female hostage and later died from injuries he suffered.
The attack started Friday morning when 26-year-old Redouane Lakdim, who was on a watch list for people suspected of radicalization, hijacked a car. The car’s driver was injured and a passenger was killed. Lakdim then fired at a group of police out jogging, injuring one officer. He drove the stolen car to a nearby supermarket and entered yelling, “Allahu Akbar!” Once inside he murdered a store employee and a customer and took everyone else hostage.
Many of the potential hostages managed to escape but Lakdim kept one woman behind. At that point, Lt-COl Arnaud Beltrame offered to exchange himself for the female hostage as negotiations to end the standoff continued. He entered the supermarket unarmed but left his cell phone on nearby, allowing police to hear what was going on inside. When police heard gunshots, the French equivalent of SWAT stormed the supermarket and killed Lakdim. Beltrame, who had been both shot and stabbed, eventually succumbed to his injuries.
Arnaud was honored for his bravery and sacrifice by his own family as well as French President Emmanuel Macron and UK Prime Minister Theresa May. From the BBC:
“He gave his life for strangers. He must have known that he didn’t really have a chance. If that doesn’t make him a hero, I don’t know what would,” Col Arnaud’s brother Cedric told a French radio station on Saturday.
Speaking to the BBC, Col Arnaud’s cousin Florence Nicolic described the officer as a person who was “so good at his job”.
“Even though we were surprised and shocked when we heard what happened we were not surprised in the sense that that’s the thing he would do without hesitation,” Ms Nicolic said.
French President Emmanuel Macron also paid tribute to the officer, saying that Col Arnaud “fell as a hero” after showing “exceptional courage and selflessness”, adding that he deserved “the respect and admiration of the whole nation”.
UK PM Theresa May said the “sacrifice and courage” of the police officer would not be forgotten.
Flags at French police stations around the country were flown at half-mast in Beltrame’s honor. He had previously served in Iraq in 2006 where he won a Cross for Military Valour.
Hearing this story, I immediately thought of the Parkland shooting, another incident in which a killer entered a building full of unsuspecting (and unarmed) people. In that case, the officer who should have stormed the building and engaged the shooter to protect the kids he was around every day stood outside and did nothing. That cowardice probably led to additional deaths. Contrast that with the heroism of Beltrame who handed himself, unarmed, to a radicalized killer to save the life of one hostage he’d never met. Courage like that deserves international recognition. Lt-Col. Beltrame deserves all of the honor he is receiving today and more.