A hostage drama at a secondary school in northwestern France has ended peacefully after five hours of police negotiations. A man described as a depressed, unemployed teacher held 20 pupils and three adults captive to draw attention to his failure to find work.
“He stayed calm and we talked,” said one released student. “We sent secret text messages to our parents and then he said we could call them.” Another student said: “He said he didn’t want to hurt us. He put down his gun and we talked to him.” Officials earlier said the gun was fake, but then police said it could fire rubber bullets. The man has been taken into custody. “He needed to talk and the negotiations were along those lines,” said the top official in the town of Sable-sur-Sarthe. “We got him to express what he’s been through, talk to those he trusts, to see that he’s made a big mistake and it had to stop.” Officials say the man had been taking medication and had been drinking.They say he had no trouble walking into the school unchallenged because he used to work there.