(AFP) – The police officers who confronted Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel in Nice pumped around 20 bullets into his truck in the shootout that ended his bloody Bastille Day rampage, it emerged Sunday.
In an affidavit seen by AFP, an officer who was among three stationed at the end of the famed Promenade des Anglais described Thursday’s bloody confrontation with Lahouaiej-Bouhlel.
The fireworks had just ended and spectators were beginning to drift away when the officers — two male, one female — got word by radio that a truck had ploughed into the crowd on the seafront.
The trio were first told to make their way east along the waterfront, before being told to retrace their steps, back along the promenade.
They ran up the famous palm-lined street overlooking the Mediterranean until they came upon the smashed truck that the 31-year-old Tunisian has used to plough through barriers and then pick off people in his path.
“He was at a halt, the front of the vehicle had been completely torn off, the engine was visible,” the officer said in his affidavit.
In nightmarish scenes, bodies lay crumpled behind the vehicle while others lay crushed beneath its wheels.
The police could hear people weeping and crying for help as others scrambled for safety.
“At first I didn’t understand what was happening,” the officer said. “People were running in every direction.”
At that moment, an onlooker climbed onto the side step of the truck on the driver’s side, in an apparent attempt to overpower the driver.
But he was held back by two police officers.
– Head slumped on window-
The policeman then saw Lahouaiej-Bouhlel raise his arm inside the truck “with a handgun in his right hand” and start to shoot.
The officer, who was standing about 15 metres (50 feet) away in the middle of the street, drew his gun and pointed it at the truck.
He was “almost face-to-face” with the assailant.
He aimed a first shot at the delivery driver’s head, which was “the only part of him” he could see. The driver ducked and disappeared from view.
Lahouaiej-Bouhlel re-emerged on the passenger side, and came under renewed fire from the officer standing in the street and his two colleagues, who had taken cover behind palm trees.
Lahouaiej-Bouhlel raised his pistol to return fire.
The officer in the street then fired two more shots before seeing the driver’s head “slump back onto the window, on the passenger side”.
He was not sure who fired the shot that killed the father-of-three whose rampage left 84 people dead, including at least 10 children, and injured about 300 others.
Between them, the three police officers fired around 20 rounds.