Christian Dornier (born July 15, 1958) is a French mass murderer, who shot to death his sister and mother and wounded his father with a 12-gauge double-barrelled shotgun at their farm on July 12, 1989. He then drove through the village of Luxiol and the adjacent area, shooting people at random. A total of 14 people were killed and eight others injured in his half-hour rampage, before police managed to subdue him.
He was diagnosed as suffering from schizophrenia and thus could not be held accountable for his crime according to French law, much to the anger of the victims’ families. He has been treated in a psychiatric hospital in Sarreguemines since April 1991.
Dornier was the oldest child of Georges and Jeanne Dornier. He had a sister named Corinne, and a brother named Serge. He served 12 months in the military around 1981 and apparently never was the same afterwards.
Dornier was described as a reserved person who liked to read a lot and work in the forest. According to his brother he had no friends and hardly talked to anyone. Sometimes he didn’t talk to anyone in the village for weeks.
One and a half years prior to the shooting his father decided to retire and hand over the farm to him in three years. Dornier enrolled in a month-long agricultural course to prepare for the day he had to take over the farm, but he returned after a week, apparently broken. He shaved his head, began to smoke, abandoned his farm work, and became violent. Eventually Georges Dornier decided not to cede the farm to him. Three months prior to the shooting Dornier, together with his father bought a VW Golf GTI, because he wanted the choice to leave the farm whenever he wished.
In the months prior to the rampage Dornier fired shots at his father and his neighbour René Barrand, and pelted a woman with stones one morning. The incidents were discussed at the village council, but it was decided that no action was needed, since Dornier never had any trouble with the law. Though Dornier’s family was advised to get him psychiatric help, and his father Georges began to hide his guns.
Dornier was regularly visited by a psychiatrist from Baume-les-Dames, who prescribed him tranquilizers, but according to his brother he never took them. His parents considered putting him in a psychiatric hospital, but he became furious, when his doctor talked to him about the matter, and his mother eventually decided against it.
In July 1989 Dornier apparently had a nervous breakdown and didn’t attend the wedding of his sister with Daniel Maillard on July 8. Instead he drove through the area the entire day.
On July 12 Dornier refused to have lunch with his family. He moved the car of his brother-in-law, Daniel Maillard, out of the way of his own car, and then waited in the kitchen, where he had hidden a double-barrelled shotgun behind a cupboard. The shotgun was earlier found by Maillard, when it was overthrown by his dog, though he thought that Dornier’s father had put it there, after the previous shooting incidents.
At 14:30, when the car of Marcel Lechine, a cattle inseminator, pulled up outside the house, Dornier, apparently thinking that his brother Serge had just arrived, grabbed the gun and killed Lechine upon entry. He then opened fire at his family, killing his sister by shooting her at point-blank range, and wounding his 63-year-old father with a shot to the neck. He pursued his father to a neighbour’s house and shot him again in his side, before returning home, where he fatally wounded his mother, while she was calling police. She later died in hospital. Daniel Maillard escaped the shooting unharmed, because he was in the bathroom at that time and fled through a window.
The 31-year-old packed more ammunition and left the farm in his car, driving around the area and shooting people at random. He first encountered 10-year-old Johann Robez-Masson and his adopted brother Johnny, who were riding their bikes, and killed them both. From a distance of 300 metres he then killed Stanislas and Marie Périard, Louis Cuenot, as well as Louis Liard, and wounded six others, among them Juliette Périard, Jeanine Cuenot, a 14-year-old girl named Angeline, and René Barrand, who was shot in the head and legs. Dornier also shot at the latter’s wife, Marie-Therese, who was standing in her kitchen. After he had killed the niece of mayor Roger Clausse, five-year-old Pauline Faivre-Pierret, who was playing in the garden, and was about to reload his gun to shoot her aunt standing nearby, the mayor’s son Joel grabbed a gun and fired a shot at him. Dornier, hit in the neck, then fled to continue his rampage elsewhere.
While Roger Clausse alerted police, Dornier drove towards Baume-les-Dames, killing Louis Girardot on the way and shooting gendarme René Sarrazin in the arm. While being chased by 40 police officers he shot Georges Pernin and Marie-Alice Champroy at a crossroads, causing their cars to crash, and killed Pierre Boeuf. When he came to Verne he was finally engaged by police and wounded in the stomach during a shootout.
The reason for the shooting is not known, though it was speculated that Dornier was irate, because his father had decided not to turn over the farm’s management to him. Police recovered two suitcases at Dornier’s farm, packed, among other things, with books and clothes, suggesting that he had planned to flee afterwards.
- Pierre Boeuf
- Marie-Alice Champroy
- Louis Cuenot, 67
- Jeanne Dornier, 57, Christian Dornier’s mother
- Corinne Dornier, 26, Christian Dornier’s sister
- Pauline Faivre-Pierret, 5
- Louis Girardot, 47
- Marcel Lechine, 45
- Louis Liard, 50
- Marie Périard, 81
- Stanislas Périard, 79, brother of Marie Périllard
- Georges Pernin, 40, teacher from Autechaux
- Johann Robez-Masson, 10
- Johnny Robez-Masson, 14, brother of Johann Robez-Masson
Prime minister Michel Rocard sent his condolences and all festivities planned for celebrating the Bastille Day on July 14 were cancelled in Baume-les-Dames and replaced with a solemn ceremony to commemorate the victims of the shooting.
Dornier was kept under heavy guard in a hospital in Besançon, to make sure he did not escape, as well as for his own protection, since locals had uttered threats against him. On July 15 he was transferred to the prison hospital in Fresnes and charged with 14 counts of murder and 8 counts of attempted murder. Two psychiatrists were appointed to examine his mental state, and in November the same year they declared that Dornier was suffering from schizophrenia, was therefore not responsible for his crimes, and should be confined in a special facility for dangerous patients. Their findings were confirmed in February 1990 and so he was declared insane and transferred from the prison in Dijon, where he was held in remand, to the mental hospital in Sarreguemines on April 18, 1991.
An application by the victims’ families to bring Dornier before a criminal court was dismissed on March 2, 1994. On March 16 the same year about fifty residents of Luxiol protested against the decision in front of the court in Besançon.