Here’s one of so many stories we hear about on a daily basis: a person known to be violent is free to move about in society. The authorities do nothing until a calamity occurs. And even then, they do very little… The simplistic tone of the article is typical, in it’s wearisome objectivity, of the way crime is reported in the press.
The northern city of Denain was holding its 106th carnival. Three kilometers away, at Douchy-les-Mines, a 62-year-old man named Ahmed Assous murdered a young French couple. Because their car was improperly parked. The regional paper La Voix du Nord reports:
While the Lithuanian majorettes and Flemish drumkorps were parading in the neighboring city of Denain, a crime without precedent took place in Douchy-les-Mines, in the former miners’ village (“coron”) of La Fabrique.
The cause of the murder was “a simple neighborhood quarrel”, according to Jean-Michel Bérard, prefect of the region. (…)
But the fact remains that a sixty-year-old man suddenly killed a man and a woman, both in their early twenties, who had come to visit their family in La Fabrique. The young couple was taking advantage of Easter Monday to introduce their 10-day-old baby to an uncle and an aunt.
They had arrived around 4:30 p.m. A half-hour later they came out, without the baby, to better park their Peugeot that they had left in front of a neighbor’s house. That’s when they saw they had a flat tire. They called on Ahmed Assous, 62, who, by way of a response, took out his 30-30 caliber carbine rifle, a veritable war weapon. According to several sources not officially confirmed, the former municipal employee of the city of Denain also shot in the direction of a young man, 17, the couple’s nephew, who was not hit. But signs of a bullet impact were found on the front door of a vehicle parked nearby.
Note: The article does not say why they went to Assous – was it to ask for help, or to question him about the flat tire? Nor does it say if they knew him.
A subsequent article, also from la Voix du Nord, indicates that Ahmed Assous was a truck driver, not a municipal employee.
When the Denain police and firemen from Douchy-les-Mines arrived a few minutes later, they saw two bodies, motionless and soaked in blood, but they could not intervene since the killer, assumed to be dangerous, still had his weapon.
The man, “who had a reputation for violence”, according to the prefect, retreated into his house.
The article concludes with a description of the crime scene, the closing off of traffic, and finally the surrender of the killer, who put up little resistance.
The family was described as “stunned” (“hébété”) by the killings.
The second article, linked above, describes Ahmed Assous as a man who did not like anyone to park in front of his house, which he regarded as his territory. In 1996 he had struck a neighbor on the head for leaning on a parked car in front of his house. Neighbors also knew about the death threats he made to his wife who recently divorced him. After the divorce, he sank into pathological aggressiveness, consumed alcohol regularly, and shot his rifle in the garden.
Below are scenes of the arrest.