Three French police officers were shot dead by a man when they arrived at a home in Saint-Just, a remote commune in central France, to respond to a domestic violence call, police said on Wednesday.
A woman who was the reported victim of the domestic violence had sought refuge on the roof of the house and was subsequently rescued by police, France’s BFMTV broadcaster reported.
The house caught fire, and the suspected gunman was later found dead in his car, police said. The incident took place in a small hamlet in Saint-Just, about 500 km (310 miles) south-east of Paris.
It was not immediately clear how he died or where the car was located. Police had previously said the man was armed and they were trying to track him down.
The three gendarme officers killed in the incident were aged 21, 37, and 45, the interior ministry said in a statement. A fourth officer was wounded and his injuries were not life-threatening, it said.
French President Emmanuel Macron offered condolences to the families of the dead officers.
“To protect us, our forces act putting their lives at risk. They are our heroes,” Macron wrote on Twitter.
Officials did not comment on the motive. France’s interior minister described the attacker as a “maniac.”
The suspected gunman was 48 and was known to law enforcement because of at least one past judicial case involving non-payment of child maintenance, according to an official in the prosecutor’s office in the nearby city of Clermont-Ferrand.
The officers from the local gendarme police service, who were responding to a call about domestic violence, arrived at the house in the hamlet early in the morning, before daylight.
When the officers arrived, a man starting shooting at them before setting the house on fire, according to BFMTV. The house was burned to the ground, it said.
After the shootings, police commanders sent in a rapid-response unit, deployed reinforcements to seal off the area, and launched a manhunt for the suspected attacker.
“The maniac has been found dead,” Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin wrote on Twitter on Wednesday morning, adding he was heading to the scene of the attack.