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Archive for Friday, March 10, 2006

Ex-teacher who took hostages surrenders

March 10, 2006

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— A former teacher armed with a handgun that fires rubber bullets surrendered peacefully Thursday after taking nearly two dozen people - mostly students - hostage in a classroom at his former school in western France, officials said.

Nicolas Vilpail, 33, was on medication and apparently under the influence of alcohol during the four hours he held 21 students and two aides captive, authorities said. A government official said Vilpail had made "paranoiac demands."

No one was injured.

Vilpail had taught at the Colbert de Torcy High School until two years ago, school officials said. He was armed with a gun that fires rubber bullets, police said, adding that the weapon was nevertheless dangerous. He surrendered after hours of negotiations, said Jean-Luc Prigent, a top aide in the local administration.

Education Minister Gille de Robien said Vilpail had resigned of his own accord from the national education system in November. It was unclear whether he had taught elsewhere during the past two years.

The minister, who went to the school, said the drama ended peacefully in part because of the calm, responsible behavior of the students, aged 16 to 18.

One of two teacher's aides taken captive said Vilpail appeared "calm and terribly depressed."

"His explanations for doing this were incoherent," said the woman, identifying herself only as Celine. "He asked us to call a maximum (number) of journalists with our cell phones."

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