Elderly Frenchman shot three dead over 30-year-old lover

4th March 2011, Comments 0 comments

A 78-year-old retired French plumber shot dead three people before turning his rifle on himself because a girlfriend nearly 50 years his junior left him, a prosecutor said Friday.

Joachim Toro, a former hunter, went on the rampage Thursday on a street in Rivesaltes, a winegrowing village in the Eastern Pyrenees region of southwest France, killing two municipal workers and a 72-year-old retiree.

The chief state prosecutor in the nearby city of Perpignan, Jean-Pierre Dreno, said that Toro had a 30-year-old girlfriend "who benefited a little financially from her charms."

"Accompanied by a female friend, she came to end the relationship in the afternoon and it went badly," Dreno said, adding that the ex-girlfriend had been lightly wounded by a gunshot as she fled.

The prosecutor said the girlfriend accused Toro of harassing her via the telephone. She asked a friend to come with her when she ended the relationship fearing his reaction, Dreno said.

After failing to kill his former lover, the old man stormed into the street and shot dead his other victims before turning the gun on himself.

He managed to shoot and severely wound himself but was taken to hospital in Perpignan, where he was in a critical condition on Friday after surgery.

Residents described Toro as friendly.

"We'd see him riding his bicycle, whistling. He was cheerful and young for his age. There was nothing to suggest he'd do something this ugly," said one woman, who asked not to be identified.

© 2011 AFP

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