PARIS (AP) — A high school student has been arrested for allegedly stabbing a female teacher to death in front of other students Wednesday in a classroom in southwestern France, officials and media reports said.
An investigation has been opened for suspected premeditated murder into the incident at a private Catholic school in Saint-Jean-de-Luz, Bayonne prosecutor Jerome Bourrier said. Investigators were able to interview the suspect on Wednesday afternoon, he added.
The student was not previously known to police and justice services, Bourrier noted. He declined to provide more details amid the ongoing investigation.
Education Minister Pap Ndiaye, who travelled to Saint-Jean-de-Luz, said a minute of silence will be held in all French schools on Thursday at 3pm.
He said about 90 students, including those who witnessed the attack, as well as some teachers, are being taken care of by a psychology unit.
A top government official, speaking anonymously because he was not allowed to discuss the issue publicly, said first elements communicated by police suggest the attacker has severe mental health issues.
French media reported that the student, born in 2007, said he heard voices telling him to kill the 53-year-old Spanish language teacher.
French government spokesman Olivier Veran, speaking after a weekly Cabinet meeting, expressed the government’s support for the education community and said the event represents a trauma for the nation.
In 2020, teacher Samuel Paty was killed outside his school in suburban Paris by an 18-year-old refugee of Chechen origin. The attacker was angry at the teacher showing caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in class after the images were re-published by a satirical newspaper targeted in a 2015 attack.