A French police officer is being hailed a hero this week after going “beyond the call of duty” during a terrorist attack in Southern France on Friday, March 23, 2018.
Lieutenant-Colonel Arnaud Beltrame died Saturday as a result of his wounds, after voluntarily taking the place of a female hostage during a supermarket siege that left three dead and 15 others injured.
Arnaud Beltrame put himself in harm’s way to save another human being. It cost him his life. We all owe a huge debt of gratitude to this hero. pic.twitter.com/SC8Z2cyQjP
— Frans Timmermans (@TimmermansEU) March 24, 2018
An ISIS-inspired gunman, who police have now identified as Radouane Lakdim, hijacked a car and fired shots at four national police officers before storming a Super U supermarket in Trèbes, southern France. After opening fire inside, Lakdim held customers and employees hostage for several hours.
Col. Beltrame entered the supermarket with his cell phone on as a tactical way for his colleagues outside to hear events as they unfold.
Though officials managed to get some of the hostages out of the supermarket safely, the gunman kept one woman as a human shield.
Beltrame proposed a trade-off, in which she would be released, and he would take her place.
“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)
A practicing Christian himself, Col. Beltrame lived out the words of Jesus in his final hours on earth.
The 44-year-old was shot and stabbed after trading places with one of the captives.
“He gave his life for strangers,” Beltrame’s brother Cedric told a French radio station Saturday. “He must have known that he didn’t really have a chance. If that doesn’t make him a hero, I don’t know what would.”
Beltrame’s cousin Florence Nicolic echoed Cedric’s claims, telling BBC, ”Even though we were surprised and shocked when we heard what happened we were not surprised in the sense that that’s the thing he would do without hesitation.”
Upon hearing shots fired inside the supermarket via Beltrame’s cell phone, officials stormed the scene and successfully killed the 25-year-old gunman.
Unfortunately, Beltrame succumbed to his life-threatening wounds the following day.
“Arnaud Beltrame died in the service of the nation to which he had already given so much,” French President Emmanuel Macron said, as reported by the Telegraph. “In giving his life to end the deadly plan of a jihadi terrorist, he fell as a hero.”
“The fact is that he did not hide his faith and that he radiated it, he bore witness to it,” added Fr. Dominique Arz in an interview with French Catholic magazine Famille Chrétienne. “We can say that his act of self-offering is consistent with what he believed. He served his country to the very end, and bore witness to his faith to the very end.”