France honors gendarme who sacrificed his life in supermarket attack
Lt. Col. Arnaud Beltrame who swapped himself for a hostage during a siege last week was honored on Wednesday in a daylong national homage.
Officials of the French gendarmerie nationale and French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb, bottom center, hold a minute of silence for Lt. Col. Arnaud Beltrame, at the Interior Ministry in Paris on March 28, 2018.
Beltrame, 44, led a team of gendarmes who arrived first on the scene of the attack on a supermarket in southern France last week. He persuaded Radouane Lakdim to release a woman he was holding as a human shield, laying down his weapon and putting his mobile phone on a table with the line surreptitiously left open.
When three shots later rang out, elite police stormed the building and shot dead Lakdim. Beltrame was found with bullet wounds to an arm and foot and a grave knife wound to the neck. He died the following morning in hospital.
French gendarmes escort Beltrame's coffin through the morning drizzle in a procession leaving the Pantheon in Paris.
People applaud as Beltrame's coffin leaves the Pantheon.
"Thank you for your act of generosity and courage. Thanks to you, Arnaud, France is beautiful," reads a note placed with a bouquet of flowers in front of the gendarmerie in Carcassonne.
The killings began at around 10:30 a.m. local time on Friday, when police say Lakdim attacked two people and stole a car, leaving the passenger dead and the driver injured.
As he drove away, Lakdim came across four riot police officers who were out jogging. He fired at them, wounding one in the shoulder, before taking hostages in a nearby Super U grocery store in Trèbes, about 8 miles southeast of Carcassonne, where he killed two more people, police said.
Gendarmes stand at attention as the convoy of French Republican Guards escorting Beltrame's coffin arrives at Paris' Hotel des Invalides, a former military hospital and Napoleon's final resting place.
Cadets, front, from the Ecole Militaire Interarmes, and police officers, rear, gather before the start of the ceremony at the Hotel des Invalides in Paris.
Soldiers carry Beltrame's coffin.
Latifa Ibn Ziaten, French-Moroccan president of the Imad Ibn Ziaten Youth Association for Peace and mother of French paratrooper Imad Ibn Ziaten who was killed by Mohamed Merah, attends the ceremony at the Hotel des Invalides.
French Republican Guards and cadets from the Ecole Militaire Interarmes carry Beltrame's coffin.
Veterans attend the ceremony.
French President Emmanuel Macron leans on Beltrame's coffin after posthumously awarding him the Legion of Honor, France's highest award.
Beltrame symbolized "the spirit of French resistance," Macron said. "We will prevail thanks to the resilience of the French. ... We will win by the cohesion of a united nation."
Beltrame's portrait is seen before a national tribute at the Gendarmerie Nationale Headquarters in Issy-les-Moulineaux near Paris.
The day provided a national focal point for grief, even as questions were growing about possible mistakes made by the French security services regarding Beltrame's killer, Redouane Lakdim.
Interior Minister Gerard Collomb confirmed Wednesday that French security services were poised to reduce the surveillance on Lakdim, who had since 2014 been on a radicalization watch list, ahead of the extremist attack.