French ‘HR killer’ sent farewell letters before killing spree

·2-min read

Two goodbye letters written by a man suspected of shooting dead three people last week have been found at his home. The gunman bid farewell to his loved ones before allegedly murdering three people at two separate human resources departments and an unemployment bureau in south-eastern France.

Letters were uncovered by the Nancy police investigations unit during searches carried out on Thursday, according to reports from daily Le Figaro.

The story caused shock in France after news reports that the unemployed 45-year-old engineer, Gabriel Fortin, killed a manager at an HR department of the company Faun, an apparent revenge killing over his treatment in 2010 when he was fired.

Earlier that day, Fortin allegedly murdered a representative of an unemployment office in Valence.

Two days before, he is believed to have killed another HR manager in Wolfgantzen in eastern France, as well as attempting to kill another man, also an human resources worker.

Prosecutors and ballistic experts were yet to confirm the link with the murder, in the Haut-Rhin department

Fortin's farewell notes are addressed to his “loved ones”, notably the suspect’s mother, however, the police investigating the cold-blooded murders said they could not be sure if the content of the letter showed he was contemplating to end his life.

The suspected “HR killer”, as dubbed by French media, remains in detention after he was charged with murder by the Valence prosecutor on Saturday.

France’s L’Obs reported how Fortin, who was not previously known to police, was suffering with crippling depression after being fired by his company’s HR department.

He holds a gun license to use a 9mm weapon.

Workplace tension

Mass shootings in France are rare, but last week's killings led commentators to evoke the underlying tension in French workplaces, whereby union representatives confront HR bosses in an atmosphere of frequent job cuts, company reforms and forced redundancy packages.

A notorious incident in 2015 saw an Air France executive have his shirt ripped off as he was pursued by an angry mob of employees after the airline announced it would axe 2,900 jobs.

Human resources bosses at Goodyear’s loss-making Amiens plant were effectively kidnapped by striking workers in 2014 who were up in arms over a plan for voluntary redundancies.