When two armed robbers walked into a McDonald’s in Besancon, France, and fired a warning shot into the ceiling, what they expected was to get away with some fast cash. What they didn’t expect, however, was that among the 40 diners inside the restaurant were 11 off-duty elite special forces soldiers who happened to specialize, among other things, in hostage situations, waiting to stop their attempted robbery. But on Sunday night, when the two men, both in their early 20s, burst into the restaurant, brandishing shotguns, and demanding workers to open all the cash registers, that’s exactly what they got.
According to the Telegraph, when the two young men entered the McDonald’s, one fired a warning shot into the ceiling, while the other ransacked the cash registers, grabbing around $2,270. While this was happening, the soldiers watched, and waited. The employees hid in the kitchen while the would-be robbers emptied the cash registers, and eventually fled through a kitchen door. It was only once everyone else inside the eatery had fled to safety that the soldiers pounced, putting an end to the robbery.
While one of the men attempting the robbery tried to make off with the loot, he tripped on some stairs and fell just outside the door of the McDonald’s. The soldiers — part of an elite paramilitary group in France called the Groupe d’Intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale, or GIGN — immediately jumped on the fallen robber, and apprehended him. The second robber, however, fled the building, and into the parking lot of the building. The soldiers ordered the robber to stop, and drop his weapon, but the man refused, instead turning and pointing his shotgun at the soldiers. One of the soldiers then incapacitated the robber with a gunshot to the abdomen.
Local prosecutor Edwige Roux-Morizot, explained that the soldiers waited for the rest of the diners and staff to be a safe distance away before they apprehended the robbers, as they did not want any potential casualties.
“During the hold-up, the gendarmes didn’t do anything. It was out of the question to use their weapons, as this would have created difficulties and could have placed many people’s lives in danger.”
The two would-be robbers were taken to a local hospital, where they will eventually be released into police custody to face multiple charges, including armed robbery and violence, Roux-Morizot said.
The special forces group that the soldiers belonged to, the GIGN, was created in the aftermath of the 1972 Olympic games in Munich, according to the Charlotte Observer. During the 1972 games, a hostage situation arose in which 11 athletes from the Israeli Olympic team were held against their will by Palestinian terrorists, and were all eventually shot and killed.
Officers of the GIGN, one of France's premiere counter-terror response teams, conduct live fire training exercises. pic.twitter.com/WxEu3aRglv— Mac William Bishop (@MacWBishop) June 3, 2016
The soldiers have been called to intervene in numerous “high-profile, and violent events,” including the 1994 hijacking of an Air France flight, that was eventually made into the movie The Assault(L’Assaut) in 2010. This year, for the first time ever, GIGN soldiers will be deployed for the 2016 Tour de France, which begins on July 2. According to Bernard Cazeneuve, the French interior minister, the soldiers will be stationed along the Tour de France route, “ready to intervene at any moment if needed.”
Thankfully, for the staff of the McDonald’s, as well as the other patrons, those 11 off-duty special forces soldiers had chosen that particular eatery in France on Sunday night to whet their appetite for Big Macs and Fries, and in the process, stop an armed robbery from happening, with harm to no one but one of the would-be robbers.
[Photo by AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani]