‘Bloodbath’ at French village fete as youths from deprived suburb kill 16-year-old

Thomas, a 16-year-old and keen rugby player, was fatally stabbed during the village fete at Crépol in Drôme
Thomas, a 16-year-old and keen rugby player, was fatally stabbed during the village fete at Crépol in Drôme - Facebook

A rural village in southern France is in shock after a group of young delinquents from a deprived suburb attacked a village fete and killed a 16-year-old boy.

The village of Crépol in Drôme was holding its “fete de village”, an annual or biannual celebration, on Saturday night with around 450 of the 500 residents attending.

As the fete began winding down at 2am, a group of youths arrived, some carrying knives. When a security guard barred their entry, they attacked him, slicing through his fingers.

One witness told Le Parisien: “There was a fight between the assailants and those who were brave enough to face them.”

“It was a bloodbath,” said another. “Youths from the suburbs surrounded the party hall, blindly stabbing people ... One youth received a heart massage on the floor. It was chaos.”

Stabbed several times in the throat

In the commotion, two men aged 23 and 28 were seriously injured and later hospitalised in a “critical” condition. One had been stabbed several times in the throat. A third injured individual was in a stable condition on Monday.

One teenager, known only as Thomas, a 16-year-old and keen rugby player, was fatally stabbed.

Hugo, a witness, told Le Parisien: “I was at the entrance and I saw Thomas get stabbed in the heart and throat. A helicopter took him to Lyon but it was sadly too late.”

Martine Lagut, the mayor, said the town was “traumatised” by the apparently unprovoked attack.

“A gang turned up to kill,” she told Le Dauphiné libéré newspaper. “They didn’t come to have fun but to harm.”

Laurent de Caigny, prosecutor of Valence, said police suspected they came to “settle a score” with a person present that night, without providing more details.

An investigation into “murder and attempted murder by an organised gang” has been launched.

Denouncing a “barbaric and tragic” act, RC Romans-Péage, the rugby club for whom Thomas played, posted a photo of the slain teenager on its website in which he smiles with his rugby kit on.

One neighbour told Sud Ouest: “I am totally devastated. It’s inexplicable. I knew him very well, his parents are wonderful people. There was no one more kind and polite than Thomas.”

‘The one who made everyone laugh’

A classmate called Mattéo said: “Thomas was the guy who got everyone to make up when there was a little conflict in the group.

“But he was also the one who made everyone laugh, who helped out all the time, who was always there for the others,” he told BFMTV.

Reacting to the death, French interior minister Gérald Darmanin said: “What happened is absolutely despicable and unacceptable.

“What happened is not extremely clear or too clear: people came from elsewhere, wanted to force their way into this party and stabbings started. It’s called savagery.”

He added: “It is a general failure of our society. There is a need to rethink the framework of authority.

“We must restore authority everywhere.”

The shocking death came amid warnings of rising violence against France’s mayors, many of them from small rural villages. France has around 36,000 mayors. According to a recent poll, the number of verbal and physical attacks against them rose by 15 per cent last year after a record 32 per cent rise the previous year.

During riots in France in July, criminals ram-raided one mayor’s house with a stolen car when his wife and children were inside.

The French government promised to ramp up security of elected officials.

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