Annecy shootings: girl, 4, found hiding under dead mother's legs

Sep 6, 2012
Nigel Horne

Reporters at the scene question how police could fail to notice girl hiding, unharmed, in BMW

THE SHOCKING discovery of three British tourists – still unnamed this morning – killed by gunfire near Lake Annecy in the French Alps has taken an extraordinary turn with the finding just before midnight of a four-year-old girl who was hiding, alive and unharmed, in the leg space behind the front seats.

Tragically it seems she was hiding under the legs of her mother and grandmother, both of them dead. Her father, also dead, was in the driver’s seat. Her older sister, found on the ground outside the UK-registered BMW, is fighting for her life in hospital in Grenoble. A passing French cyclist was also shot dead.

French media reporting from the scene this morning in the village of Chevalin are asking how the four-year-old was never spotted by local French police who attended the scene after another cyclist, apparently British, came across the carnage in a secluded car park and alerted the authorities just before 4pm yesterday.

The gendarmes, having seen the three bodies in the car, apparently secured the area while they awaited the arrival of forensic experts from Paris.

They finally found the girl late last night. She had kept absolutely still for eight hours, seemingly unsure whether the voices she heard outside the car belonged to whoever had killed her family.

Quite what the police can learn from the girl is uncertain, given her young age. Le Parisien quotes Annecy prosecutor Eric Maillaud telling reporters: “She heard noises and cries but she couldn’t tell us more, she is only four.”

Currently, the motive for the killing remains a mystery and no weapon has been found. Local news website says some villagers have reported seeing a car, possibly containing the killer or killers, leaving the area at high speed yesterday afternoon.

While the identity of the family remains unknown, it is almost certain they were British – the little girl spoke in English to the police – and that they were staying at a campsite in Saint-Jorioz. It was the manager of the campsite who alerted police to the fact that the family had two daughters, not one.

The wounded older sister, whose age has been put at anywhere between eight and 12 by the French press, was flown by helicopter to Grenoble. She is reported variously to have a fractured skull and/or been shot three times.

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It was not the campsite manager that reported the family and 2nd girl missing to police. Many more inaccuracies have been reported in the press about this horrific event.