Everyone who pins on a badge spends at least part of their day thinking about what they would do in a life or death situation. How will you react if a suspect points a gun in your direction? Would you be willing to sacrifice your life to save someone else’s? None of us truly know how we will react until the time comes. We can hope we would dare to do as Lieutenant Colonel Arnaud Beltrame did when he came face to face with death.
On Friday, March 23rd the French Gendarmerie faced a problem which has repeated itself in ever increasing frequency across the nation- an Isis inspired attack. A 25 yr old radical Islamist went on a shooting spree. First, he highjacked a car, killing the passenger and wounding the driver. Then randomly shoot at a group of policemen on their morning jog, adding another to the list of wounded. Finally, he stormed a local supermarket and killed two more before taking another customers hostage.
This is where LtCol. Beltrame became involved.
A graduate of the military academy at Saint Cyr, decorated military veteran and current Deputy Chief of the Aude Region’s Gendarmerie Nationale training and experience meant he was a natural choice to oversee the negotiations. Earlier in his career, he had protected the Presidential Palace as a member of the Republican Guard. After joining the Gendarmerie, he had been a member of the elite tactical response team GSIGN. This is also what leads him to not only place himself in harm’s way but do so in a situation which meant almost certain death.
Although the authorities were successful in convincing the terrorist to release most of the hostages he kept one as a human shield. Given the path of carnage left in his wake, there was little doubt of the danger that hostage was in. LtCol. Beltrame decided to trade himself for that hostage and entered the supermarket unarmed. When officers outside heard additional gunfire, they immediately stormed the building, but it was too late. LtCol. Beltrame had been mortally wounded, both shot and stabbed by the terrorist who was himself killed by police.
Many may disagree with LtCol. Beltrame’s decision to trade himself for a hostage, especially when the suspect had already proven his willingness to commit violence. They will say that doing so was in direct conflict with every hostage training program. But regardless of whether it was the correct decision, it was the right one. No matter what country you may find yourself serving in a police officer’s first duty is to protect the public. There is no doubt LtCol. Beltrame not only understood that duty, but he also decided that a single hostage deserved the same protection 100 hostages would receive. It is also fair to say he understood what the decision meant.
While I have never met Lieutenant colonel Arnaud Beltrame, I ask everyone who has ever served, pinned on a badge and been willing to risk danger to protect others to recognize his ultimate sacrifice and raise a glass in his honor.
Un Vrai Héros – A True Hero!
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.