Éric Borel (11 December 1978 – 24 September 1995) was a French high-school student and spree killer who, at the age of 16, murdered his family in Solliès-Pont in the arrondissement of Toulon on 23 September 1995, and afterwards walked several miles to the village of Cuers where he continued his rampage the next day, shooting dead twelve other people and injuring four more, while pacing through the streets for half an hour. The shooting only ended when police arrived at the scene, whereupon Borel committed suicide.
Éric Borel was the son of Marie-Jeanne Parenti and Jacques Borel, who were both working in the military at the time of his birth. However, their liaison was rather short, and after they separated, Eric was sent to Jacques Borel’s parents in Limoges, where he stayed until he was five. When his mother, who had visited Eric only occasionally up to that time, began to live with Yves Bichet, she again took care of her son, much to his dislike, and took him to their home in Solliès-Pont.
Borel’s mother, an authoritarian and – at least outwardly – religious person and activist in the Secours catholique, mistreated and beat him—she believed him to be a “child of sin”. He never developed a close relationship with his mother’s new companion, with whom he was said to have frequent rows and who reportedly also beat him on occasions. However, Franck and Jean-Luc Bichet, Yves Bichet’s sons, stated that their father had always been nice to Eric, even building him a shack for his chickens and other animals he took home.
When Eric broke his arm at the age of eight, rather than to go home, he preferred to run away and hide, until he was found, shivering from pain. In this type of situation, Borel, who was known as a quiet and taciturn boy who kept to himself and rather tend the chickens in the backyard during his free time than to go out, grew up and developed an increasing admiration for the military, telling lies about heroic deeds of his father during the Indochina War and adoring his stepbrother Franck Bichet, who served in the army. He had an affection for weapons and used to shoot sparrows with an air gun.
– Later years and motive
Until his death, Borel attended the lycée professionnel Georges-Cisson in Toulon, where he studied electromechanics and did quite well academically. He was said to be a disciplined and quiet student. However, in his last year at school there was a radical change in behavior. He skipped classes without permission or explanation and became unaffable. He regularly said that he could not bear it anymore at home, that he had had enough of doing housework and being called names, and often stated his wish to join the military, like his father and grandfather. Apparently, the week prior to the shooting, he also told one of his classmates that he would commit suicide, but not before killing two or three people.
Borel had one friend, 17-year-old Alan Guillemette, a classmate who was rather outgoing and popular among his peers and with whom he would hang out after school.
Many reports erroneously stated that Borel’s room was full of Nazi-insignia, and rumors he was sympathizing with fascist ideologies were spurred even more by the fact that his stepfather had attended several meetings of the Front National in 1989. But besides a picture of Adolf Hitler cut out from a newspaper, graffiti displaying a swastika on his door, a few books on World War II, as well as a documentary about David Koresh and the Waco siege, no evidence was found after his death that he was interested in any kind of politics. Also, a girl from Cuers spread the story that Eric had told her about his relationship with his half-sister Caroline, who was supposed to be his pregnant girlfriend. However, the sister in question did not exist, nor was it true that his father had died of cancer shortly before his rampage.
The series of attacks started on 23 September 1995, at about 6:00 p.m. CET, when Borel killed his stepfather, Yves Bichet, in the kitchen by shooting him four times with a .22-caliber rifle, before smashing his head with a hammer. Police assumed that they had a quarrel beforehand, when Borel tried to run away from home. Next, Borel assaulted his half-brother, 11-year-old Jean-Yves Bichet, who was watching TV, in a similar manner, by first shooting him with the rifle and afterwards bludgeoning his head with the hammer. After wiping up the blood trails, Borel waited for his mother to come home.
As soon as his mother, Marie-Jeanne Parenti, arrived at home from church at about 8:30 p.m., Borel immediately killed her with a single shot to the head. In contrast to her husband and son no blunt force was used on Mrs. Parenti, although some reports have suggested that he beat her as well with either the hammer or a baseball bat. When his mother lay dead, Borel once again started to clean the house from blood, covered the bodies with sheets and closed all shutters, as well as the steel gate. Carrying a bag packed with food, money, a raincoat, a map of Limoges, and a pistol shooting rubber bullets, which was erroneously identified as a .22-caliber pistol in some reports, and armed with his father’s rifle and his pockets full of ammunition, Borel made his way towards Cuers, at first by car, but eventually he crashed it into a wall, where he continued his path by foot. Presumably he spent the night between vines.
The bodies of the murdered family were found at approximately 1 a.m. by Yves Bichet’s son Jean-Luc, a student living in Antibes who only occasionally visited his father on weekends. After calling police Bichet was first considered a suspect in the murders when giving contradictory information. The absence of Eric Borel remained undetected until about three hours later.
– Shooting Spree
On the following day at 7:15 a.m., Borel arrived at the home of his friend Alan Guillemette and when Alan’s mother opened the door Eric asked her to wake him. The two had a lengthy discussion in the garden, and apparently Eric wanted something from Alan, but when he declined and turned to go back into the house, Eric shot him in the back, mortally wounding him. From 7:30 a.m. onwards, Borel started shooting people at random. No one grew suspicious of his rifle until it was too late, as it was hunting season and thus the sight of rifles outside not unexpected.
First he shot at Ginette Vialette through an open window, mortally wounding her, as well as Denise Otto, whom he killed, while she was bringing the trash out. He also hit Denise’s husband, Jean, in the shoulder. Subsequently Borel injured an elderly woman who was walking in the streets with her husband and shot and wounded two brothers who were crossing his path. The shots he fired at Rodolphe Incorvala, once again through an open window, were eventually lethal. He later died in a hospital. Borel crossed the street to shoot and kill shopkeeper Mario Pagani, who was out buying a newspaper, with shots in the abdomen and head, as well as Mohammed Maarad in front of the “Café du Commerce”. Marius Boudon and André Touret were killed while they were drawing money from an ATM and Andrée Coletta while she was taking her poodle for a walk. Finally he shot Pascal Mostacchi to death at Place Peyssoneau.
By 8:00 a.m., police arrived at the scene. Realizing that he was surrounded, Eric Borel committed suicide under a cypress tree in front of a school by shooting himself in the head. Observers of the rampage stated he had been poised and calm all the while, taking great care at aiming and shooting, hitting most of his victims in the head and returning when he did not hit properly the first time. In total, Borel had fired about 40 shots.
On 23 October 1995, Jeanne Laugiero, 68, died in hospital from injuries sustained in the shooting, raising the death toll to 14 victims. The last death in the killing spree was 68-year-old Pierre Marigliano, who succumbed to his wounds on 2 March 1996, bringing the death toll to 15. Borel’s shooting spree was the deadliest act of mass murder in France since Christian Dornier killed 14 people in Luxiol on 12 July 1989.
- Yves Bichet, Eric Borel’s stepfather
- Marie-Jeanne Parenti, Eric Borel’s mother
- Jean-Yves Bichet, 11, Eric Borel’s half brother
- Alan Guillemette, 17, a friend of Eric Borel
- Marius Boudon, 59
- Andrée Coletta, 65
- Rodolphe Incorvala, 59
- Jeanne Laugiero, 68
- Mohammed Maarad, 41
- Pierre Marigliano, 68
- Pascal Mostacchi, 15
- Denise Otto, 77
- Mario Pagani, 81
- André Touret, 62
- Ginette Vialette, 48
Among the wounded were Jean Otto and Jean Boursereau.