But in the end, Eric Borel killed many more than two or three...he killed SIXTEEN.
He walled through the small French town of Solliès-Pont, Toulon, shooting anyone he saw. An elderly couple breakfasting together, then their neighbour. A pensioner having a morning coffee on a patio, and a teenage lad out to buy a loaf of bread. The next victims were farmhands and another old man who was out walking his dog. Twelve people dead in total. And four injured.
But these strangers weren’t Eric Borel’s only victims. About three miles from the town, in the house Eric shared with his family, lay three bodies. That of his mother, Marie-Jeanne, his step-dad, Yves, and his step-brother, Jean-Yves.
Eric Borel had shot them all in the head.
When Eric Borel was born on 11 December 1978, his mother was in the army and his father in the navy.
They were both young and soon separated. Eric’s father didn’t want anything to do with his baby son. And his mother left him with her parents.
His first five years, living with his grandparents, were happy. But then Eric’s mother came back for him.
She’d already married again. Her second husband was Yves Bichet.
Soon, she and Yves had a baby together. Another boy, Jean-Yves.
They were happy.
Eric, however, was not. He felt neglected by his mum, pushed out.
To make matters worse, Eric didn’t get on with his step father or his step brother.
And Eric’s mum beat him regularly.
‘If the kids step out of line, they get a couple of slaps in the face,’ she once told friends.
She was also deeply religious and a member of several Catholic organisations.
When he was 8-years-old, Eric broke his arm. But rather than seek help, Eric ran off into the local woods for hours.
Did he feel safer alone than at home with his mum?
In school, Eric was a lonely figure. Even as a teen, he couldn’t look his classmates in the eye, was wary of others.
He even told them his real father had died of brain cancer – possibly trying to convince himself his real dad hadn’t abandoned him out of choice.
Eric’s one friend was Alain Guillemette.
Alain was everything Eric wasn’t.
Friendly, engaging, popular.
Sometimes, Eric would play drums in a band that Alain had set up.
But theirs was an unequal relationship. For Eric, Alain was everything. For Alain, Eric was just another of his many mates.
Outside of his relationship with Alan, Eric was friendless.
So, instead of playing with other boys and girls, Eric spent long hours playing with the shooting rifle his step-dad had given him. He’d fire it at small birds and animals, hoping to kill them.
He also enjoyed reading books about weapons and about the Second World War. His favourite films were the Terminator, The Silence of the Lambs and The Longest Day, a John Wayne film about the Normandy Landings.
Shortly before his killing spree, Eric began skipping school.
When he made it into class, he’d tell his classmates how he was sick of being made to do housework. And only a week before his killing spree he made the chilling boast:
‘I shall commit suicide. But not before I kill two or three people.’
In the end, he killed many more than ‘two or three’.
On Saturday 23 December, he began his deadly mission. With the rifle he’d learned to shoot with, Eric Borel ended his step-father’s life with a bullet to the head. He then smashed his head in with a hammer.
Then, he did the same to his 11-year-old step-brother before finally killing his mother.
He spared his mother’s corpse the hammer bashing he’d delivered his stepfather and brother.
Calmly, he tidied up the family home.
And finally he packed a small bag full of biscuits and bullets and set off into the countryside dressed from head to toe in black.
What he did then, and where he went, may never be known.
But at seven the next morning, he turned up at his mate Alain’s.
Alain spoke to Eric in front of the house. But after only a few brief minutes, Eric pulled his rifle from his bag and shot his friend dead.
The rest of his victims were strangers to him. If he was going to take his own life, he wanted others to die with him.
He walked along the streets and fired bullets into anyone who crossed his path. Soon, chaos erupted across the small town.
But according to eyewitness reports, Eric remained icily calm.
Eventually, the police cornered Eric. He was encircled in front of the local school. It was there his death-wish came true. He calmly pressed the barrel of his gun against his forehead and pulled the trigger.
He was 16.
No one will ever know what pushed Eric Borel to do what he did, to take those lives. Perhaps most frighteningly, there might not be any explanation at all.