The French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb sadly reports the death of Colonel Arnaud Beltrame.
Yet the entire world was already aware of his sacrifice.
Lt. Col. Beltrame, 45, died as a result of gunshot wounds he sustained during a terrorist attack that resulted in a hostage situation.
Collomb announced early on Saturday that Beltrame had passed away after he was hit by several bullets and one injury to the throat.
“Lieutenant Colonel Arnaud Beltrame has left us. France will never forget his heroism, his bravery, his sacrifice.”
Beltrame offered himself up in exchange for a female hostage after an armed man went on a rampage, carjacking a vehicle, killing two civilians, shooting at officers and finally barricading himself in a supermarket.
The suspect credited the Islamic State and yelled “Allahu Akbar” during his rampage, reported The Telegraph News.
During the exchange, Beltrame surreptitiously kept his cellphone on so that other officers outside the supermarket could time their breach of the building at a critical moment with the intent of saving lives.
When the suspect commenced shooting inside the supermarket, Gendarmere officers stormed the building and shot the suspect. Beltrame who was grievously wounded prior to the tactical entry was transported to the hospital where he succumbed to his wounds.
— Amichai Stein (@AmichaiStein1) March 23, 2018
Eyewitnesses told French media that the suspect demanded the release of Salah Abdeslam, the only surviving member of the 2015 Paris jihadist attacks that killed 130 people, and said he was taking revenge for the international coalition bombing ISIS targets in Syria.
“He was known by the police for petty crimes, we had monitored him and did not think he had been radicalized,” Collomb told reporters at the scene in Trebes.
Beltrame was the commanding officer of the Gendarmerie GIGN elite tactical unit, which specialized in hostage negotiation and rescue, counter-terrorism, and the protection of high level government officials.
He also served in Iraq in 2005 and was a member of the presidential guard, among other notable achievements, reported Fox News.
His death brings the death toll to four. Authorities said that 15 others were injured in the attack.
“Arnaud Beltrame died in the service of the nation to which he had already given so much,” President Emmanuel Macron said. “In giving his life to end the deadly plan of a jihadi terrorist, he fell as a hero.”
Beltrame graduated from a top military academy in France in 1999, the BBC reported. A few years later, he joined an elite police special forces group.
He also received an award for bravery in 2007, CNN reported, and earned the Order of Merit—one of France’s highest honors—in 2012.
Prior to his death, Beltrame had organized a training session in the Aude region in December for a similar type of hostage situation. At the time, he armed his officers with paintball guns, according to the Depeche du Midi newspaper.
Le lieutenant-colonel Arnaud Beltrame nous a quittés.
Mort pour la patrie.
Jamais la France n’oubliera son héroïsme, sa bravoure, son sacrifice.
Le coeur lourd, j’adresse le soutien du pays tout entier à sa famille, ses proches et ses compagnons de la @Gendarmerie de l’Aude. pic.twitter.com/I1h8eO7f9a
— Gérard Collomb (@gerardcollomb) March 24, 2018
English translation to Collomb’s tweet is as follows:
Lieutenant Colonel Arnaud Beltrame has left us. Death for the Fatherland. France will never forget its heroism, its bravery, its sacrifice. The heavy heart, I address the support of the whole country to his family, his relatives and his companions of theAude.
Beltrame’s mother says she isn’t surprised by her son’s courage.
She told RTL radio on Friday night, before the announcement of his death, that “I’m not surprised. I knew it had to be him. He has always been like that. It’s someone, since he was born, who gives everything for his homeland.” Asked if she was proud of him, she said he would have told her “‘I’m doing my job mum, that’s all.’” She said to “defend the homeland” was his “reason for living.” RTL did not give her name, according to news.com.au.
And his brother, Cedric Beltrame, told RTL radio on Saturday that he “gave his life for strangers.”
He added that his brother “was well aware he had almost no chance. He was very aware of what he was doing.” Cedric Beltrame also stressed that his brother kept his professional wits about him.
Beltrame was married with no children.
Lt. Col. Arnaud Beltrame is gone, but will never be forgotten. EOW: Saturday, March 24, 2018.